Dunstable lass Lyndsey Weller joined the army to see the action but the reality was far worse than she ever imagined.
The 26-year-old initially trained as an army combat medical technician and was sent to Afghanistan almost straight away.
She admits she was excited but scared, and wondered how she’d cope.
Her regiment spent 10 days acclimatising at Camp Bastion in Helmand Province in 2010 and she was suddenly faced with severely injured people who’d lost limbs.
Two incidents from that harrowing time were to remain imprinted on her mind – one was being unable to save a six-month-old baby girl who’d drowned after her father threw her into a lake and the other was attending the aftermath of a suicide bomb attack.
She recalled: “It looked as if someone had painted the town red. Many people were dead and there were numerous casualties.
“I remember looking up and seeing a guy with one leg hopping around in shock, and body parts everywhere.”
Lyndsey was diagnosed with post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) when she came back to the UK and was given a medical discharge 18 months later.
She explained: “Once you have PTSD, you always suffer from it. But you eventually learn how to deal with it and channel the negative emotion and energy into something else.”
She was given ‘amazing’ help by an army counsellor who showed her how to develop coping mechanisms, with exercise proving a great panacea.
But she struggled to get employment after leaving the forces and eventually joined a medical supplies company as a medical technician.
She’d always hankered after a career as a paramedic and when she saw an ad for a student position on the NHS website, she jumped at the chance.
But a basic requirement was a C1 drivers licence which enables those who pass to drive an ambulance. The cost was out of Lyndsey’s league but she got in touch with the SSAFA (Soldiers and Sailors Families Association).
They looked into her situation and arranged payment. Lyndsey passed with flying colours and was accepted on the two-and-a-half year student course through the East of England Ambulance Service. When this is successfully completed, she’ll be able to register as a paramedic.
She will always be grateful to the charity that allowed her to realise her ambition and said: “I wouldn’t be in the position I am in now if it wasn’t for SSAFA. With their support, I’ve overcome my PTSD and fulfilled my dream of becoming a paramedic.”