The Military Veterans' RUFC is an off-shoot of the charitable work I have been doing for some time. I have been dealing with men who have recently returned from combat duty, and have been faced with finding answers to their pastoral needs.
I played a lot of Rugby in the Army, and continued to play when I returned to civilian life. In many ways, Rugby can fill the void left when men leave military service. At least that was my own experience.
The majority of the men in my squad are suffering from PTSD --- some more than others. Some of them have been referred to me by Armed Forces Mental Health providers, whilst others have simply gravitated towards a group of former servicemen.
Through my charitable work, I have met a great many local politicians. Because of this relationship, the local authority are backing my club, and have agreed to provide a ground for us. In addition to this, they are willing to provide "start up" funding for the club.
We are currently negotiating a partnership with BLESMA (British Limbless Ex-Servicemens' Association), and have promised to play charity matches for their benefit. In return, BLESMA have offered to assist us with PR.
Other Armed Forces charities will also benefit from peripheral fund raising activities, which will take place around the main event. Some of my guys have recently played in a charity match which raised over £5,000 for Combat Stress & Help for Hero's.
The Armed Forces are also indirectly involved with the club, as the Deputy Commander of 42 (NW) Division is promoting the club within the military community in the North West. The Heads of Army, Navy and Air Force Rugby are also aware of the club, and have notified all units of our existence. Local Territorial units are also trying to help, and 12 Company, 4 Para TA have posted us on Part 1 orders.
Membership is open to men who have served in any of the three regular branches of the Armed Forces, and to members of Territorial or Reserve Forces. At this time, we have a few ex- Navy personnel, and representatives of many Regiments & Corps of the Army. We have yet to see any RAF chaps coming forward, but they are more than welcome to join our merry band. We do have a couple of former French Foreign Legion guys. These Legionnaires have served alongside UN Forces in the first Gulf War, Afghanistan and Bosnia, and are a welcome addition to our club.
If any former military man is interested in being part of a real Band of Brothers, he should have no fear of contacting us. Our e-mail address is Milandvetsrufc@gmail.com My 'phone number is 07968 928739.
All my men are important to me, regardless of how experienced they are. We have very mixed abilities, from the guys who have played at a very high level, to those who haven't picked up a ball for years. The more experienced players are dedicated to helping those with less experience to enjoy their Rugby. No-one need ever feel that their contribution is not of value to the club.
Our Club Captain played for NATO Lions, and for an Italian National League Club. He is a 20 + stone Loose Head Prop, and provides a very solid platform for the scrum. We also have an ex- Rugby League man, who played for a Premiership Team in the 1990's. Our Hooker played in the Army, as did most of our other players. One of our Flankers played in the Navy, and is the brother of our esteemed Club Captain.
We are very savvy about training our team, and have a 1st Division Coach overseeing our training regime. Less experienced players, or those who haven't played for some time, are utilised as reserves until their fitness and skill levels improve. They will be introduced in "cameo" roles, and everyone will get a game at some point.
We have no intention of poaching players from other clubs, but will accept men who have made an informed and independent decision to join our club. Men who are not currently placed with a club, or believe that they can contribute to a club consisting of military veterans, should immediately contact me.
I hope that you can squeeze the main points of this on your website. As you will gather, the success of this club will have profound influences on the lives of those players suffering from PTSD, and for the wider Veteran Community. It will also have very positive implications for the sport of Rugby Union, and will foster good will in the communities it touches.
Invitations for disabled ex-servicemen to attend games have already gone out through BLESMA, 42 Division, and the Veterans' World magazine. My serious intention is to support these men through the club, and the matches we play will be a part of that.
My own military service saw me in one or two hell-holes, which is the reason I am so dedicated to this project. I really hope you will help me to achieve success. This is perhaps the most important thing I have done in my life, and I hope to leave it as a legacy to future generations of servicemen.