Selston veteran backs campaign to get RAF members 'help they deserve'

A former airman who suffered serious leg injuries after stepping on a bomb in Afghanistan is supporting a campaign to get RAF veterans and their families ‘back on the radar’.

Tuesday, 25th June 2019, 2:28 pm
Luke Wigman

Luke Wigman, 32, of Selston, was just 25 when he was injured by an IED while training Afghan troops in Afghanistan in 2011.

He spent two months recovering in hospital after the bomb took flesh from his legs and left him with nerve damage. He was then medically discharged from the RAF.

Facing the challenge of changing career from military to a civilian role, the RAF Benevolent Fund stepped in and helped to pay for Luke’s advanced driver training

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Luke Wigman

He now works for the East Midlands Ambulance Service in the headquarters on the equality and diversity agenda.

Mr Wigman has also taken part in the Invictus Games, and takes on challenges including completing seven marathons in seven days.

Mr Wigman said: "I expected my career in the RAF to last for the long term, it was the perfect job and I never thought I would be medically discharged. After I was injured I was forced to look at what I wanted to do next and think about a life outside of the RAF – it was a pretty worrying time."

"Without the RAF Benevolent Fund's support I would have found it difficult to pay for my driving course. They've helped me to get on to the right path to find a career outside of the Service and assisted me to get back into civilian life."

Luke Wigman

"This campaign is about getting servicemen and women in the RAF family on the radar. There are so many people out there that deserve the help that I got."

The RAF benevolent fund is launching a campaign called “Join The Search. Change A Life”, which aims to get thousands of veterans the support they need, following research showing that at least 300,000 RAF members currently need help but aren’t accessing it.

In Nottinghamshire, the benevolent fund has helped 58 people over the past year, and has spent more than £110,000. However, the fund aims to at least double the number of people it supports.

Research carried out by the fund estimates that the RAF Family is made up of 1.4 million people who are either serving or who have served in the RAF and their spouses, partners or dependent children. Three quarters of them are aged over 65 and, in total, research shows that at least 300,000 need support.

Air Vice-Marshal David Murray, chief executive of the RAF Benevolent Fund, said: “We know they’re out there. Men and women who once served, or did their National Service in the RAF, and now need our help. No veteran should be left fighting alone, whether that be in the face of financial, emotional or health problems. We have life-changing support available for all members of the RAF Family.

“Too many ex-service people do not seek the support that is rightfully theirs due to misplaced pride, shame or through not knowing support is there.

“So, in our centenary year we are launching a major campaign to get people to think about who they know who may be eligible for and in need of our support. They may be your friends, neighbours or relatives. They did their duty – now we, as a society, must do ours before it’s too late.”

Sir David Jason, who is supporting the fund said: “I am part of the generation of men and women who were called up to serve our country. I know many often don’t think of themselves as RAF veterans but the RAF Benevolent Fund is here to assure them the nation thanks them for their service and is prepared to support them in their time of need.

“This campaign is essential to ensure all those who need help get it before it’s too late – I am delighted to play my, small, part in raising awareness for that pledge so if you know someone who served, start that conversation today. Speak to your friends and relatives and ask questions about National Service or what they did during the war, as that one conversation could make a big difference to someone’s life.”

To refer someone to the RAF Benevolent Fund, go to www.rafbf.org or call 0300 102 1919.