17 August 2021

The Veterans Alliance would like to introduce their new Veterans Champion employed by ELFT to ensure that the Veterans Voice remains central to all their work going forward.

Commenting on Ryan's appointment, ELFT Clinical Lead for Veterans, Jane Kelly said: "It is a real honour to have Ryan on board. His experience and passion for Veterans' care is inspirational. We hope to build on these new posts like Ryan's to ensure our Veterans and their families have a positive experience working in the NHS and are given the right opportunities to contribute to the NHS Long Term Plan.

Image left: ELFT Veteran Champion, Ryan Knight. Image below, right: Byron, Ryan's assistance dog for mental health and Ryan in 2007.

 

 

 

Cpl Ryan Knight (v) RAMC

"I have joined the ELFT team with my assistance dog Byron as a Veterans Champion. Since my medical discharge from the Armed Forces I have dedicated my time and energy into supporting and advocating for veteran care. I am extremely passionate about my new role and look forward to supporting our future works."

Ryan’s Story

Ryan joined the Army as a boy soldier at the age of 16. He travelled the world, undertook various operational tours and thoroughly enjoyed his career as a combat medic until this was cut short when he was seriously injured in Afghanistan. Ryan explains: 

"Although I had been wearing body armour and a helmet prior to the explosion I realised I was no longer wearing my protective equipment, it had been blown off me with the force. I couldn’t see any of my crew; my gunner, my driver, my interpreter were all amongst this thick smoke. I started to hear my good friend of mine shouting at me, asking me if I was ok. His vehicle was behind mine in the patrol, I could hear him frantically relaying information to the Platoon Commander, taking control of the situation. I can’t remember what he asked me, but then he disappeared again. I was left lying on my back. 

 

"I was the only medic on patrol, it left the responsibilities on my comrades to stabilise the casualties. This was particularly hard for me to deal with laying hopeless in the ditch, as this was my role, trained to look after my comrades and not the other way around. Another 5-10 minutes had passed, I could hear the guys were on the ground working on the vehicle, I was left to one side as the extraction was put in place. I was then placed on a stretcher and started to hear some screaming from nearby. I kept asking who it was, who was screaming. It gave me a glimmer of hope that my comrades were alive. Finally, I heard the relieving sound of the Chinook helicopter landing and I was put on to the back of the aircraft and flown out to the hospital.

"My next recollection is waking up in the field hospital the Doctor telling me I was stabilised, ready to be flown back to the UK. I kept asking about the welfare of my crew; however none of the medical staff would let me know. I was later informed that I was the sole survivor. This left me devastated and I cried, I cried until I couldn’t cry anymore. I lay in my hospital bed unable to move and wondered why me, why am I still here? Is this really happening?

"I woke up in a UK hospital ward 14 hours later, eager to see my family and now wife Olivia. I underwent several surgeries and had suffered life-changing injuries. I spent the next 12 months undergoing both physical and psychological rehabilitation.

"Some days I would simply sit there for hours with a blank expression on my face. Amongst my physical injuries I was subsequently diagnosed with complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

"For years to come I found it very hard to open up and talk to strangers about my incident but now I am trying to use my experience to help others."

If you would like to find out more about how to support the Trust’s veterans’ work please email jane.kelly10@nhs.net

For out more about ELFT's commitment to the Veteran's Aware Trust, a directory of resources to support Veterans, and the work of the Veteran's Alliance here.