Scottish army veteran granted Christmas home wish after battle with PTSD and homelessness

It is the Christmas wish a struggling army veteran had been desperately hoping would be granted.

After more than a decade spent either homeless or moving from one private let to another, Bobby Jones, 53, finally has a place to call his own this Christmas.

He is one of nine veterans who have been allocated a home out of the 77 properties built in phase two of the Tarryholme development in Irvine, North Ayrshire.

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It ends a difficult period for Mr Jones, whose precarious living situation started after he was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) following a tour in Bosnia in 1995 where he was injured. He also completed two tours of Northern Ireland during the Troubles, and one of Iraq in 1991 where he lost three friends killed in a friendly fire incident by a US A-10 aircraft.

Bobby Jones with his two Yorkshire terriers in his new Irvine homeBobby Jones with his two Yorkshire terriers in his new Irvine home
Bobby Jones with his two Yorkshire terriers in his new Irvine home

Having left the army, Mr Jones’s marriage broke down. He experienced homelessness four times and was at one point reduced to sleeping in his car for several weeks, as well as sofa surfing or living in hostels.

Charity Combat Stress has since helped Mr Jones to manage his PTSD. The veteran now has a place to call home this Christmas, having into his two-bedroom home with the support of social landlord Riverside Scotland in September.

“This year I finally feel like I have a home for Christmas,” he said. "Being in one place is a big relief for me. I feel much more at ease now.

"I wasn’t settled before, I was always moving. I feel I’m not going to be thrown out of my home, the landlord’s not going to sell it.”

Mr Jones, who served with the Queens Own Highlanders, which amalgamated with the Gordon Highlanders in 1994 to form The Highlanders, lives in the home with his two Yorkshire terriers . He said he was looking forward to his 23-year-old son coming to see him at Christmas and “perhaps having a steak”.

Another veteran, John Canavan-Daly, 45, who left his role as a corporal in the Royal Logistics Corps 13 years ago, said of his own new home: “This place is life changing.”

Veterans support service Veterans First Point, which is part of the NHS, had first alerted Mr Jones and Mr Canavan-Daly to the new homes being built in Irvine.

A ‘service level agreement’ struck between Veterans First Point and Riverside Scotland last year supports ex-armed forces personnel to maintain their tenancies.

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