Veterans' Stories

Falklands War Veteran Opens Up About Battle with PTSD

July 04 2024

“I wasn’t old enough to vote or drink, yet I was sent to fight and possibly die.”

These are the words of Royal Marine Graham Jones who served in the Falklands Conflict at just 17-years-old and now shares his harrowing experiences and ongoing struggle with PTSD. 

While on his journey to the Falkland Islands, Graham discovered the severity of the situation when he and his colleagues heard news of the attack on HMS Sheffield. The Type 42 destroyer, was struck by an Exocet missile on May 4, 1982, resulting in the loss of 20 crew members and marking a pivotal moment in the conflict.

"It was then we knew this was real," Graham recalled.

He also witnessed the traumatic sight of HMS Antelope's destruction, an image that remains etched in his memory and Graham also recalled a terrifying moment when he and a friend narrowly escaped death as a bomb landed near their bivvy during an air raid. 

"I can still see the plane coming through the valley in slow motion, the pilot looking down at me, and then the bomb descending on a parachute. The blast took us off our feet,” said Graham. 

“In the aftermath we found a large piece of shrapnel from the bomb where my friend was sleeping just moments before it exploded."

The troops returned to the UK on June 22, 1982 and the reception was overwhelming for Graham. 

"As we approached Portsmouth and Southampton, it was a sea of ships and boats, with lights flashing from the cliff tops,” he said.

After his military service, Graham joined the police force in Scotland, but struggled to adapt to civilian life. 

Haunted by nightmares and dealing with anger and heavy drinking, his mental health deteriorated, which led to a breakdown in 2012. 

“I laid out pills on the bed, ready to end it all, but my Police dog saved my life, “ he said.

"He put his head against my leg and started crying. That snapped me out of it."

Graham is now committed to managing his PTSD and helping other veterans: "I still dream of that plane and the explosion, but I can cope now," he said. 

The story of his journey again highlights the critical need for mental health support for veterans. 

"PTSD is something I’ll always live with, but I’m proud of my service and would do it all again."

Graham is now the CEO of Woodys Lodge, a social and communication hub that provides life-saving support, advice and sign-posting for veterans and their families.

Woody’s Lodge is one of more than 400 UK-based military charities and organisations to receive funding from the Veterans’ Foundation – and you can help by playing the Veterans’ Lottery.

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