Iraq veteran looks to help comrades

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A former soldier who narrowly avoided death while serving in Iraq is looking to open a therapy centre to help others.

Jennifer Day was just 21 when she was caught up in a roadside bomb in Basra while serving with the armed forces in 2004.

Escaping with just minimal injuries after the vehicle she was in was torn to shreds before catching fire, she continued her tour of duty before being diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) on her return to civilian life.

Jennifer, from Cramlington, has gone back to her first passion of horses and qualified as a trainer, and she is now working to set up Horses4Heroes to help other PTSD sufferers.

“I was riding through the streets of Fallujah in a huge, fortified dumper truck when a roadside bomb ripped through the vehicle, catapulting me out through the windscreen,” she said.

“The force of the explosion was so great I was flung out of the window, hitting the protective cage round the truck and hurled back into the passenger seat while the driver was hit by flying shrapnel.

“I was so shocked I just sat there. There was smoke and flames leaping around but I just sat there looking at it.

“Finally, I came to my senses, ducked through the fire and jumped out of the truck. That’s the only reason I’m here today.

“I stayed for another three months in Iraq – apart from a dent in my helmet and headaches, there didn’t seem to be anything wrong with me over there.”

But when she returned to civilian life, Jennifer realised she was not well, and as a result of her experiences in Iraq, she was eventually diagnosed with PTSD.

She said: “PTSD is something that can hit you at any moment.

“It did get to the point where I did not think I had any hope, until horses came along.

“It’s hard to believe that two years ago I was really, really bad. I was going downhill fast.

“I had such a narrow escape from death but I have come out the other side.

“Now I am looking to help others who may be going through a similar experience with PTSD.”

Horses4Heroes already has the backing of the council, and Jennifer is in talks with the Ministry of Defence to see if it can help with funding.

The project will be the first of its kind in the country, and it is hoped it will be running within a year.

Visit www.horses4heroes.is-sweet.co.uk for details.