A combat veteran who served his country in the Gulf War has told how he became homeless after leaving the Royal Navy and spiralled into mental health problems – but has turned his life around and now helps others avoid the same fate.
Rick Yarnley-Cave, 47, suffered in the past with PTSD after he witnessed a helicopter crash while on operational deployment to Bangladesh in 1991.
Fortunately there were no fatalities, but Rick – alongside two others who were on the flight deck at the time –witnessed the accident first-hand. They were lucky to survive as the rotor blades hit the deck literally feet away from them.
When he left the Navy Rick found himself sofa surfing and squatting to get by – until he secured help from the Royal British Legion.
Rick said: “Looking back on it now, when I left the Royal Navy my mental health was in a very poor state.
“I had gone from this all enveloping world where everything is done for you to suddenly realising that I had to do everything myself. I was in Helston, I had no job and no money and I went into a spiral. I was depressed and I was self-medicating.
“I didn’t have a home to call my own, so I would squat and stay on friends’ sofas over the course of a few months. Sofa surfing is a huge problem, and it is classed as being ‘hidden homeless’.
“I just didn’t consider what would happen when I left the Armed Forces.”