An Army veteran living in Barry is throwing his support behind a campaign from Help for Heroes, the UK’s leading Armed Forces and veterans’ charity, to put pressure on the government to remove unfair barriers to financial support for veterans, including amputees and those suffering from chronic pain.   

Help for Heroes is rallying the public to sign its open petition with the aim of receiving 100,000 signatures, which if successful would require the issue to be considered for debate in Parliament; and Rick Barton-Sykes, aged 53, is hoping that his story will persuade local people to add their signatures. 

Richard Barton

Rick has been living with debilitating chronic pain after an operation he had in 2011. He suffered a hernia whilst in the Army, and the operation caused nerve damage that has left him with complex regional pain syndrome, affecting his left leg. After just short of 20-years of service, he was medically discharged in 2017 and has since found himself extremely restricted in what he is able to do, due to the pain he has to live with. His limited mobility means that he is unable to get involved in activities he used to enjoy, such as climbing and running. Constant levels of severe pain also mean that he is currently unable to work and is on the waiting list for a below knee amputation. 

Rick told us…..

“I’m on a daily regime of medication to try and cope with the pain, but it only masks it, it never stops. I also suffer from PTSD and anxiety as a result of my service. I experience chronic pain all day, every day, which has left me very isolated from other people”. 

If the Help for Heroes campaign is successful, veterans would receive the compensation and financial support they deserve. It would prevent the exclusion of those living with chronic pain due to their service and end multiple assessments for amputees who often must re-prove their entitlement every two years to qualify for benefits. 

Help for Heroes believes the Ministry of Defence is currently out of step with medical guidance and that too many veterans are having to fight the system to get the compensation and financial support they deserve – often while battling physical or mental illness and injuries from service.  

The petition is also calling for an end to compensation being classed as income when considering benefits and pensions.  

Chronic pain is recognised by the World Health Organisation as pain that persists for more than three months. In 2022, 78%* of veterans with long-term health conditions who sought support from Help for Heroes struggled with long-term pain.  

Chronic pain affects around 15.5 million people in England (34% of adults)**, and can lead to depression and feelings of hopelessness, as well as impacting employability or exacerbating isolation, loneliness, and poor mental health.    

For veterans who suffer from chronic pain, it can hinder common day to day activities such as sitting, standing, and queuing at the shops with moderate levels of pain being shown to negatively impact sleep patterns.***    

Help for Heroes patron, veteran and sports presenter JJ Chalmers is backing the campaign, bringing on his experience with chronic pain caused by life-changing injuries suffered from an IED blast whilst serving in Afghanistan.   

He said……

“Living with chronic pain brought on by my injuries in service is the most debilitating aspect of my disability. I will still need more surgeries in the future, and for the thousands of veterans in the UK who also suffer, being able to receive the compensation they deserve will be a small but vital step towards making their lives better in a way they absolutely deserve.”   

Alexandra Lovett, Lead Occupational Therapist at Help for Heroes told us….

“We believe chronic pain should be recognised more widely, and with greater transparency, by the Armed Forces Compensation Scheme. It would simplify the process for veterans where potential compensation routes may already exist.  We believe the system fails to adequately consider the lifelong and extensive impact of this condition on a significant proportion of veterans.”    

Rick receives support from a dedicated Help the Heroes clinical advisor Helen Neve, who works with veterans across the Welsh region. He added…..

“If our campaign is successful, it will really help other people like me. For me, it would mean that I could pay for some additional support on a daily basis, so that I don’t feel so isolated”.  

Help for Heroes has supported more than 30,000 ex-Armed Forces and their families and is the only military charity with a dedicated Clinical team providing physical healthcare

To find out more about the petition and sign, go HERE. 

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