A FORMER RAF trainee officer is re-building his life in York after his childhood dream of joining the service turned into a nightmare.
Matt Okey says he was only months into his training when he suffered an agonising back injury, which he believes was caused by serious mistakes made during his training.
He spent months in rehabilitation, including a spinal rehab course at Headley Court, where many servicemen went after being badly injured in Afghanistan.
He claimed the public was well aware of such casualties but knew nothing of the 'dozens and dozens' of servicemen and women who suffered equally debilitating injuries in this country.
“We're forgotten about and there simply isn't the money or the support left to look after us,” said Matt, 24, of Lawrence Street, who has been involved in a lengthy legal battle for compensation which is still ongoing.
“I was medically discharged without seeing a penny of compensation, an apology for the horrors I suffered while in treatment or even a full diagnosis on what remains to this day a very serious set of injuries.”
He said he had wanted to join the RAF since he was a child and went to see military air shows, and all was going well until after he began training and it was discovered he had collapsed foot arches which started to cause achilles problems.
He claimed that a military doctor ordered him not to run under any circumstances but a physical training instructor had ignored this and made him go on a training run. He broke down after a couple of miles, after which his achilles went black.
He said the achilles recovered but he suffered consequential damage to his calves, which appeared to have then led to problems developing in his back.
He said he had suffered from depression but had now overcome everything thrown at him, initially by going to the University of Hull and getting a 2.1 in Creative Writing and American History and then coming to York, where he found a job with specialist recruitment firm T J Peel, a 'fantastic young company in a great city, with people I actually enjoy being around."
A Ministry of Defence spokesperson said: “We recognise the invaluable contribution of our service personnel and are determined to make sure that individuals injured as a result of their service get all the support they need.
"We have a number of comprehensive schemes in place to provide financial compensation and other support. We have also worked hard to ensure they get the best possible medical care and support.
"When compensation claims are submitted, they are considered on the basis of whether or not the Ministry of Defence has a legal liability to pay compensation. Where there is a legal liability to pay compensation we do so."