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'Everton in the Community saved my life'

14 May 2019

Army veteran Dave Curtis on how club's Inside Right programme helped him at home after surviving a suicide bomb attack in Afghanistan

In August 2009, Lance Corporal Dave Curtis was eight days into his deployment in Afghanistan when his life changed forever.

"A suicide bomber drove into the back of the vehicle I was driving and blew himself up," he says.

"I had a lot of survivor's guilt because someone only two feet away from me lost their life instantly.

"It was a horrible day and a day that ended my career in the army and nearly ended my life."

David suffered serious physical injuries. He broke his back in two places as well as his shoulder in several places.

But it was the mental scars that were more difficult to deal with.

"Nine times out of 10 I'll speak to a veteran or a family member and we've been through similar situations"

David Curtis

"I was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder," he says. "I'll have nightmares and I was arguing with my wife, my mum and dad. I was snapping at everyone.

"My family were trying to support me but I was pushing them away. I didn't want anyone close to me.

"I was at rock bottom."

At that point, David was told about Everton in the Community's "Inside Right" programme.

It works with ex-service personnel at risk of developing or who have mental health problems.

The impact was immediate.

"I came down to a coffee morning at Goodison Park and, I say it all the time, but that day going there, I think it saved my life," he says.

"There were lads there straightaway telling me that it can get better, that there's light at the end of the tunnel.

"From that first day, I knew that was where I needed to be."

David now passes on his advice and experiences to fellow veterans as a project co-ordinator for Knowsley Veteran's Hub, which is building on the success of the Inside Right scheme.

It offers a range of engagement tools and support mechanisms to improve the lives of veterans and their families.

"Nine times out of 10 I'll speak to a veteran or a family member and we've been through similar situations," he says. "I'll say to them, 'I am able to support you.'

"By doing that, it makes me feel better about myself. It takes away any negative thoughts I might have. I love doing my job every day but it's also my therapy.

"I've always said that Everton in the Community saved my life. It means the world to me."

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