31 October 2017
"My Remembrance Day" - Afghanistan Veteran Gregg Stevenson
Life in the army
06 March 2009 was the day I lost both my legs in a bomb blast. I was 22.
"I’d joined the Royal Engineers when I was 19 – being a soldier was the only thing I had ever wanted to do – but I was blown up on my very first tour of Afghanistan. I can’t forget the seconds immediately after it happened. I was on patrol when I stood on an IED and was thrown upwards violently. There was a deafening ringing in my ears, and I felt as if I had been punched so, so hard.
I was evacuated to the military hospital at Camp Bastion where both my legs were amputated – the right one below the knee, the left one above the knee. When I woke up, I was just grateful to be alive, but after I was flown back to the UK, I realised it was going to be a long, long road to recovery. I went from being a young, active man fighting for my country to being an amputee in a hospital bed. I went from having a promising career to having to face the unknown."
"I was injured eight years ago. Blesma has been there for me all that time, and I know Blesma will be there for me and my family for the rest of my life. Whether I need access to the latest prosthetics, or help with the costs of disability so I can stay independent, Blesma has promised to be there.
I have access to a full-time Blesma Support Officer who always puts my needs first and, later in life, I know Blesma will make sure I am comfortable and well cared for – either in my own home or in special accommodation close to my loved ones."
"On the day itself, I think back to the lads we lost on our tour of Afghanistan"
Remembering those we lost
"On the day itself, I think back to the lads we lost on our tour of Afghanistan. My thoughts always turn to a Royal Marine called Travis Mackin who died in Kajaki. I think about other lads who paid the ultimate price – people who I didn’t know so well but who I met in training or in the few months I was in Afghanistan.
I find the day incredibly moving, and I feel a lot of pressure to get it right, but I’m also extremely proud. I have the utmost respect and sheer admiration for those who have paid with their lives for our country."
Impact on the family
Melaine Stevenson Gregg’s wife remembers how she heard the devastating news.
How did you find out about Gregg’s injuries?
His mum rang me. I stared at my mobile and knew something was wrong. At first, she didn’t know the details. Ten seconds felt like 10 minutes! I just burst into tears.
What happened next?
I was devastated. I knew Gregg would have to live with his injuries forever. I knew I’d always be affected, too, but I was sure we could get through it together.
How proud are you of Gregg?
I have no idea where he gets his drive from. He keeps our lives as normal as possible: he works, pays for holidays, he’s a great dad. He could easily have given up, but he’s got fire in his belly. It’s been a bumpy road, but Blesma has helped so much that when we got married we asked for donations to Blesma rather than gifts!
"Blesma set me small goals, gave me advice on prosthetics and gave me financial guidance"
This Remembrance Day, please spare a thought for our limbless veterans as they remember the moment that changed their lives forever.
"This Remembrance Day, Blesma needs to raise funds in order to meet all our veterans’ very different needs. It’s an ongoing challenge for a small charity with no government funding that relies entirely on the kindness of its supporters, which is why I hope you will please consider making a Remembrance Day gift to Blesma, The Limbless Veterans.