Prince Harry is encouraging wounded and injured servicemen and women to rise to new challenges.
The prince, 31, believes that through sport and adventure, ex-armed forces members can start new missions on their road to recovery.
The busy royal made two important stops on Wednesday in support of his efforts to back veterans. His first stop was to Canada House to view an art project created by Canadian war veterans. The initiative has helped former service members cope and recover from the invisible wounds sustained during their tours of duty. He then headed straight for St. James’s Palace for a reception in support of his Endeavour Fund.
The fund aims to support wounded, injured and sick service personnel and veterans with the belief that recovery and rehabilitation is aided by new challenges. And at a reception at St. James’s Palace on Wednesday, Harry outlined his plan to use existing fund alumni to seek out those harder-to-reach service personnel and veterans and inspire them to further achievements.
“I would ask all those who may, for whatever reason, feel reluctant to come forward – just dare yourselves to be part of a team again, to work towards a common aim, and most importantly, to move beyond being defined by your injury, he said in an inspiring speech.
“Give yourself the opportunity to create a new definition – sportsman, athlete, guide, adventurer! And most importantly, reconnect with people that understand, people that been through exactly what you’re going through now. Trust them, trust yourselves – for you had the same training, he continued.
It is the latest move for the former Army captain on behalf of veterans. He is also planning for the upcoming paralympic-style Invictus Games to be held in Orlando in May. And last month, he joined the intrepid trekkers of the Walking with the Wounded charity as they embarked on the 60th day of their 1,000-mile hike.
“In this next phase of the Endeavour Fund, we will be asking those who have taken part in previous endeavors to take a leading role in future challenges as project managers, but more significantly to act as peer mentors, forming a support network for those veterans who have not found the impulse to come forward, Harry said. Our alumni are ideally placed to help these hard-to-reach individuals rediscover their sense of purpose through sport.”
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One inspiring alumni is Chris Herbert, who was wounded in Iraq in 2007, where he was serving with the Yorkshire Regiment. He lost his leg when an IED detonated by his vehicle. Herbert has since turned to competitive sailing via Toe in the Water and has taken part in races and regattas.
He said he “felt extremely lost and angry with the world” following his injury, but the charity had been his “catharsis.”
“Once again, I was back in a team environment with people who understood what I had and was going through and could support me in this difficult transitional period, he said. This supportive environment helped me to change how I defined myself and my outlook on my future.”
And it was another alumni – an injured servicemen – who learned to fly WWII Spitfires via the fund when he took to the skies over southern England at the anniversary of the Battle of Britain this year.
There are some exciting new adventures on the horizon, including the first all-amputee team effort to row across the Atlantic Ocean, while other veterans will be introduced to adaptive skiing and former Lt Col Henry Worsley is planning a solo and unsupported trek across Antarctica.