A former Kirkcaldy soldier, who was told he would never walk again following a car crash, has helped launch a new wellbeing service for ex-servicemen and women in Scotland.
Lewis Montague (32), from the town, joined Falklands veteran Tony Banks, from Dundee, in backing the service that will provide support and advice to ex-servicemen and women after they leave the Royal Navy, Army or Royal Air Force.
Legion Scotland, the country’s biggest veteran’s membership charity, has set up the new befriending service as a first point of contact to help veterans of all ages and backgrounds to settle back into civilian life.
Lewis joined the army in 2000 as a 19-year-old and served with Black Watch 3 Battalion of the Royal Regiment of Scotland in Kosovo, Germany, Poland and in Iraq during the Gulf War.
He was still coming to terms with the loss of friends who died in combat when he was involved in a near fatal car accident. The incident while he was on leave put him in a coma for two weeks and in hospital for a year.
Lewis was told he would never walk again, but he was determined to get back on his feet and against all odds, after five years in rehab he learned to speak and walk again.
Lewis welcomed the new service at its launch in Edinburgh. He said: “My family were told to get the house ready for me being a vegetable. It took a while for me to take it all in.
“The whole process of getting back to walking took a while.
‘‘My attitude at the time was that I wanted to get back to duty. I tried to be positive but I also had to be realistic. After I was discharged I needed to focus on starting to rebuild my life again.”
He added: “After coming out of the army I felt a bit like a number, but my family and friends were there for me all the way.
“I think when you come home and you have so many different things to try and get your head around you really need a place to go that can help you figure it all out.
“There is support out there so it’s important that there is a port of call so people know how to get the help they need.”
Legion Scotland’s wellbeing service will provide friendship, advice and connect veterans into local services that can help them cope with changes after leaving military life.
The new service will also offer veterans the chance to benefit from the charity’s comradeship activities and free wellbeing and pensions support.
For more information visit www.legionscotland.org.uk