Mark Trainor, Falkland’s Royal Navy veteran, from Grimsby, Lincolnshire has always wanted to return to the Falkland Islands. A life-limiting health diagnosis meant he will be visiting the islands to pay his respects to fallen comrades next week.
Mark is taking a group of nine other veterans to revisit their past. He explained that his participation in the Falklands war is something that has haunted him ever since, and revisiting the past may give him some peace of mind.
“Back in my time we hadn’t even heard of PTSD. It was just trauma. I would describe it as… a living nightmare. War stays with you. If you’ve been to war you don’t lead a normal life. How you deal with that is important. I do alright, but coming up to the anniversaries of the Falklands conflict I change a bit; become more reserved.”
Mark has dealt with his struggles by helping others and has volunteered for SSAFA, the Armed Forces charity for over thirty years.
“Being helpful to others makes me feel better. We all need help sometimes and, often, military people find it really difficult to ask for help. That’s where SSAFA comes in. We understand what veterans have been through and we know how to help.
“Unity, loyalty, patriotism and camaraderie; that’s what the military is about. Often veterans trust me as their case worker and open up about all sorts of things because they feel safe with another veteran.”
Mark and his friends will be flown by the RAF to the Falkland islands, where they will visit the military graveyard, commemoration gardens and meet members of the Armed Forces stationed on the island.
Mark admitted that it was going to be challenging to go back to the site of his sea battles.
“It was really hard to witness ships sinking around you. In the morning you’d see them on fire and going down. By the evening you were burying the dead. It was really an awful time. One of the blokes coming with me was on HMS Sheffield as she went down. I think he will need a lot of emotional support, it has affected him ever since too.”
SSAFA operates in England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland as well as overseas, supporting tens of thousands of people from within the Armed Forces family – Regular and Reserves, serving or retired, and their families – annually.
Volunteers come from all walks of life and a military background is not necessary. To find out about opportunities with the UK’s oldest tri-service charity, visit ssafa.org.uk/volunteer.