AN Iraq war veteran from Richmond has told how discovering a passion for art has helped him deal with the struggles he faced after a tank he was travelling in was hit by 18 rocket-propelled grenades.
Ken Nash, 41, tells his story to a dedicated fundraiser in the latest video made by the charity Help for Heroes celebrating the bond between the charity’s beneficiaries and its supporters.
It is the third in a series which began with a video of five-year-old fundraiser Tempy Pattinson and veteran Simon Brown, which attracted more than 70m views.
Mr Nash tells fundraiser Philippa Haig, 54, that she and other charity supporters have helped to turn his life around.
Following his experience in Iraq, he was diagnosed with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD), an anxiety disorder and was medically discharged. His life spiralled downhill to the point where he had lost his family and was living a leaky caravan.
But his recovery began when he was put in touch with Help for Heroes and found himself in an art class. One of his first creations was a haunting image of a lion with powerful words embedded in the mane. The ‘Silent Roar’, which can be seen in the video, represents the fact that PTSD is silent and cannot be seen.
In the video, he says art gave him a new sense of purpose, and led to a reunion with his estranged wife and daughter.
Mr Nash said: “I got into charcoal drawing. All my nightmares are in black and white, so I used to get up in the middle of the night and just draw. I drew the lion after waking up at 1am and starting drawing. I went back to bed about 5am and then when I got up eventually I saw that I had put all the words of my nightmares in the drawing as well.”
He adds: “I’m on the road to recovery. Two years ago I was sitting in a caravan staring out of the window with no hope in life. Now, I’m an Ambassador for Help for Heroes, I’ve got my own art and photography website, and I’m back with my wife and daughter – what else could I want?”