Kemsley is one of the core UK team members taking part in the Walk Of America this year. He served with the Royal Signals for 15 years, a job he loved, but he is currently awaiting medical discharge. Kemsley struggles with repeated double shoulder dislocations which have severely impaired his physical and sporting abilities, and thus his ability to remain within the Army. He is passionate about helping and encouraging other ex-servicemen and women to come forward and seek support, and to shine the spotlight on those, who like him, feel that they aren’t injured ‘enough’ to warrant support.
We spoke to Kemsley this week about the upcoming expedition…
What have you experienced since leaving the armed forces?
“At the moment I’m technically still employed by the army and housed on the barracks, so I’ve not had to reach out to any charities yet…however, you never know when you may need the help. I know people that have left… had very successful businesses… and then ended up on the streets with nothing.
“When you’re medically discharged from the army, you don’t receive any information about your financial situation until ‘4-6 weeks’ before your final day, so until then it makes it very hard to plan your future. Once I receive this information I’ll be able to start looking at properties and locations within a budget…but as a lot of people know, it’s not a speedy process. During this stage, I’ll technically be homeless. But fingers crossed it will work out for the best and I won’t need any help…but you never know.
“The military doesn’t help as much as they should when it comes to leaving the forces, so it’s vital that charities like Walking With The Wounded are given the praise and publicity they deserve for the amazing work that they do.”
How do you feel about being chosen to take part in the Walk Of America?
“It’s a mix of emotions for me… partly be because of the timing (with my military career being cut short) and partly because I had planned to visit different parts of America – staying with American friends that I made while serving on operational tours – but who sadly never made it home. Also, since I was small I’ve always wanted to live in the states, so it feels like this expedition was made for me!
“But more importantly I get to help raise awareness for veterans with mental health issues that aren’t able to do it themselves, and that has to be a good thing!”
What are you most excited about?
“I can’t wait to get out to the States and finally meet the rest of the US team and share some stories…I’m sure we all have loads to tell…and luckily we have loads of time to tell them! I also can’t wait to be walking through all the different locations and see the different cultures. Matt has come up with an awesome route!”
Do you see any challenges ahead of the expedition?
“If you asked me that a few weeks ago… I’d probably have said getting enough sleep…because I’m so excited to get out there! However, I chipped a bit of bone off the top of my foot recently so I’ve not been able to train, so the real challenge for me is to make up that time.”
The Walk Of America expedition takes place this summer between 2 June – 6 September. Please follow and support the team at www.walkofamerica.com