NEW HOPE: Veteran Reg Armstrong (right) has been donated a bicycle from M1 Cycles Gladstone owner Matt Jenkin as part of the Veteran Sport Australia program which helps veterans suffering from mental illness.
NEW HOPE: Veteran Reg Armstrong (right) has been donated a bicycle from M1 Cycles Gladstone owner Matt Jenkin as part of the Veteran Sport Australia program which helps veterans suffering from mental illness. Liana Walker

Bicycle donation gives veteran a reason to get out of bed

FOR some a new bicycle is a way to get from A to B, but for veteran Reg Armstrong, it's a reason to get out of bed in the morning.

Mr Armstrong has lived with depression after he injured himself during a training course with the army.

Since then he's had chronic pain in his knees and ankles which has meant he was unable to work as a soldier. It's something he said was a key reason for his poor mental health.

"Part of my depression was not being able to achieve things I wanted to do as part of my service to the country,” Mr Armstrong said.

"I had a fantastic 22 years in uniform - they accepted you for who you were not what you were.”

He worked for the department of defence until his illness took a turn for the worse in 2016.

After spending over a year in psychiatric hospitals in Toowoomba and having a heart attack which needed a quadruple bypass surgery, he was released last year then made the move to Gladstone.

He joined groups Mates4Mates and Soldier On where he said veterans get together to "chew the fat”.

It's how he discovered Veteran Sports Australia, the group behind the Invictus Games, who also provide financial assistance for those who cannot afford access to sports with the ultimate aim of improving veterans' physical and mental health and wellbeing.

After contacting the organisation he has been donated a bicycle from M1 Cycles Gladstone, fully funded by the organisation.

"I'm so overjoyed at the moment and it's not something I've felt in a while,” Mr Armstrong said.

"With the depression and being in a new place I'm quite happy with being at home and not going out.

"I'm getting a lot better than what I was, but I've still got a long way to go. This is part of that therapy.

"It gets me out, it gets me exercising, it gets the blood pumping, it gets my fitness going.” His plan now that he has a bike is to join Gladstone cycling groups and one day compete in the Invictus Games.

Having denied there was anything wrong for 12 months, he encouraged others not to make the same mistake as him and get help if they need it.

"If you feel off, if something doesn't feel right, put your hand up and ask for help,” he said.

"There is nothing wrong with that. The people around you would prefer to give you help rather than you take matters into your own hands.”

If you or anyone you know is struggling phone Lifeline on 131114.



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