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Six months ago Neil, who has post-traumatic stress disorder, was struggling on his Army pension of £700 a month and had suicidal thoughts.
He kissed his daughters goodbye at school and was on the verge of ending his life by walking into traffic.
At that moment a smile and greeting from a woman attendant at a school crossing changed his mind.
Soon after, The Veterans Charity stepped in and arranged a huge grocery shop delivery for him.
Thanks to Sunday People readers who have supported our Christmas Heroes Appeal, the charity helped again with Christmas food and a hamper with decorations, treats and gift vouchers to buy presents.
Neil Edwards, wife Becky and daughter Molly receive a hamper from VC Bear (Image: APEX)
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Neil, 38, said: “It is so humbling to know people care and want to help. I can’t tell you how much of a difference it has made.”
He thought he, wife Becky, 36, and their daughters Molly, ten, and Rosie, eight, would be eating bangers and mash, not turkey. As a corporal he was medically discharged from the Royal Corps of Signals in November 2017 after 21 years in the Army.
He served in Northern Ireland and Iraq but six months in Afghanistan in 2013 gave him PTSD so severe it causes epileptic seizures.
His patrol base in Helmand Province was attacked daily by Taliban mortars and rockets.
Neil Edwards (Image: Neil Edwards/mirrorpix.com)
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One shell missed him by 16ft as he ran for cover. That April three comrades on patrol in an armoured vehicle were killed. Back home he suddenly became a sobbing wreck at the sound of a party popper.
Neil, of Braunton, Devon, said: “I wanted to punch my wife in the face. I’d scream at my kids for making noise and playing like normal children do. I’d be crying all the time. I couldn’t understand what was happening to me.” When his disability benefits were axed, forcing him to appeal, he was pushed to the brink of suicide.
He recalled: “But then I saw the lollipop lady. She said to me, ‘Hi Neil, have a good day,’ and gave me a smile. And that stopped me.”
Your donations have helped give former servicemen and women the Christmas they deserve with their families. It’s not too late to donate to our appeal, see the panel, left.
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