An intrepid team of heroes has conquered Africa’s highest mountain in a bid to raise awareness of veterans’ disabilities and recognition of the impact of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). As the team’s website puts it, loss of limb is visible; PTSD is not.
PTSD is a normal reaction to extreme trauma and it is vital to de-stigmatise this condition in order for sufferers to seek early diagnosis and treatment. By changing the perception of physical and mental disability through the ‘Spirit of Adventure’, the team said it hopes to inspire and motivate others to overcome, achieve and succeed.
The team included the ’65 Degrees North (65DN)’ team, which had previously completed an expedition across the Greenland ice cap. Team leader Rich is a former Royal Marines Commando while veteran teammate Peter became the first amputee to cross the ice cap. He says that he chooses not to be defined by his injuries – which were suffered on patrol in Afghanistan - and focuses instead on inspiring and encouraging others to participate in sport and adventurous challenges.
65DN were joined on the adventure by a team of five injured Royal Marines and five officers from the South Wales Police.
Writing of the final stage of the challenge on their Facebook page, the team said: “The final remarkable hours were some of the toughest that the team would face; the journey's end was in sight but the mountain was never going to be easy to conquer.
The challenge for many was as much mental as it was physical; setting off at midnight in complete darkness and temperatures dropping to as low -25°C at the summit.”
The post continued: “Despite the very challenging effects of mountain sickness, the team spirit and fortitude remained throughout and they all completed the journey to summit Mount Kilimanjaro, the world's highest freestanding mountain....KILI CONQUERED.”