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A week after getting my GCSEs, I began my career as a soldier at the Junior College in Harrogate. My dad had been in the Royal Signals, but he advised me to join the Royal Engineers. I liked the fact that you could get civilian qualifications in the Engineers, and so I trained as an electrician. But after training, we were told that if we weren’t going the Para or Commando route, we would be going into bomb disposal because the role was undermanned and Afghanistan was kicking off.

Jack Cummings Military
Jack Cummings was stationed in Afghanistan when he was only 19.

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“I suppose the job chose me, but I really enjoyed it. It was packed with adrenaline and I deployed on my first tour of Afghanistan when I was just 19. The IEDs were all made of metal back then so were quite easy to find with our metal detectors. Looking back I was naive, but I was doing proper soldiering; we were on the ground so much that our beards grew out.

"When I went back to Afghanistan in the summer of 2010 the threat had totally changed. The Taliban had realised that it had been too easy for us to detect the IEDs so they were now much smaller, with less metal in them. Service personnel were getting killed every day.

I was injured on 14 August 2010. I was 22 years old. I can’t remember anything about what happened but have been told that I’d been searching an area when an IED went off. I landed face down. My team commander thought I was dead. The guys on the ground applied tourniquets and kept me conscious until the emergency response team got there.

Jack looks back at a framed image of him deployed in Afghanistan.

I came very close to dying. The doctors didn’t think I’d make it, and when my mum and dad got the dreaded knock on the door they were told to just pack a weekend bag because they would be coming to say goodbye. It must have been devastating for them.

“I was in a coma for 30 days, then in intensive care for six months. When I woke up, what had happened didn’t kick in because I was groggy from medication. It wasn’t until a week or so later, when I was able to talk to my dad, that I realised the extent of my injuries. He’s ex-Army, a man’s man, but when I asked him if I’d lost my legs he started to cry. I’d never seen him in tears before. That’s when I realised I wasn’t dreaming.

“I’ve had loads of operations since – too many to count. At the start, I was in and out of theatre a lot. I went to Headley Court [military rehabilitation centre] in February 2011 and was there for three-and-a-half years. My rehab was slow; at first I used an electric wheelchair, then a manual one. I was given prosthetics, but because my injury is through the pelvis on one side – that didn’t work.

Jack has been determined to not let his devastating injuries beat him.

I had to relearn everything – how to shower, drive a car with adaptations, use the toilet.

“Mentally, I just got on with things. More than anything, I felt lucky to be alive. Talking through stuff keeps you positive. I met a Special Forces guy who’d been paralysed when he was shot through the neck. He was getting on with his life so I thought I should, too. I’m independent, I got married in 2017, I have so much to live for.

"Blesma was there for me right from the start and has been really helpful ever since. After I was discharged I went on a Blesma skiing trip, which was fantastic, and the Association got me a really good wheelchair.

Jack Cummings Front
Jack Cummings has regained his zest for life.
Jack Cummings Mdeal
Not only has Jack been awarded for his military service, he has also gone on to win a Bronze medal in swimming at the Invictus Games and has completed the London Marathon wheelchair race.

Now, I’m enjoying the gift that is life, and sharing that with my wife, Sarah. We’ve been through hell, so now we want to enjoy life together.

Your kind donations are helping us currently support over 2,600 Members live independent and fulfilling lives after suffering the loss of limbs, use of limbs, sight, speech or hearing.

With your support, we can continue to help Members like Jack, and further veterans across the UK who have suffered a life changing injury.

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