Ex-serviceman Sleeps First Full Night Since Crushing Truck Accident

Ex-soldier Garry sits on his specialised bed, designed to support his injuries.

A former soldier severely injured during military service can now get a full night’s sleep, thanks to Poppy Funds, teamwork and the generosity of the community.

The RSA National Office, RSA Upper Hutt and Wellington Beds were able to provide ex-soldier Garry with a specialised bed catered to his severe injuries.

On May 2 1984, the road Garry and his military team were driving down, designated for driving training and emergencies only, gave way, causing the truck to fall 60 metres into a ravine, rolling over his back — crushing his spine and pelvis in the process. These injuries have haunted Garry ever since, preventing him from being able to walk long distances, or even stand for minutes at a time. The discomfort also prevents him from sleeping at night.

“I would sleep on my bed for 2 hours, wake up in discomfort, move to the lazy boy, sleep for another 2 hours, then go back to bed for a further 2 hours,” he says.

Community Pulls Together

When Garry approached ACC, they presented him with job opportunities. However, due to the injuries, he was unable to work full time. He has continued to work in one form or another, though his income since the accident has been far below his pre-accident earnings, and even below the minimum wage.

An x-ray of Garry’s spine and pelvis. The two blue arrows should meet at the same level. The orange vertical line shows the misaligned and twisted spine.

After ACC denied Garry of financial assistance, he sought after help by contacting the RSA National Office. RSA’s Support Services Projects Officer, Richard Terrill, helped Garry with subsequent ACC claims, and found him a bed to help him sleep.

Upper Hutt Wellington Beds Manager Mel Broderick was more than happy to offer a specialised bed at a very generous discount.

“We spent time finding out what needs Garry had, so we could equip him with the best bed possible suited for his injuries,” Mel said.
“I believe everyone should have a good bed, especially the servicemen. You’ve got to look after your servicemen.”

Likewise, Tom Cormack, President of Upper Hutt RSA, did not hesitate to offer assistance.

“Richard contacted me, brought the situation to our attention, and straight away, we knew we had to help. We used Poppy Appeal money, and split the payment with the National Office — we will also help cover Garry’s medical & associated expenses.”
“This is what the Poppy Appeal is all about, we are very proud of the amount we raised this year. All up, we raised $18,000.”
“We cannot be more thankful to the collectors, volunteers and of course, our donors. Without all of the help and effort we received, we would not be able to help people like Garry.”
Left to right: Mel Broderick (Wellington Beds Upper Hutt Manager), Richard Terrill (RSA Support Services Projects Officer), Soldier Garry, Tom Cormack. (Upper Hutt RSA President).

The Life Changing Bed

On the second night, after receiving the bed from the RSA, Garry slept over 8 hours for the first time without medication, in 30 years.

“The only other times I was able to stay in bed all through the night was when I was drugged up on medication which caused my body to seize up, so I physically couldn’t move,” Garry said.
“I use to be awake before 6am every morning, now I actually struggle to get out of bed; I wake up and think, that’s odd, what time is it?”

All Poppy Funds go towards supporting former and current service personnel like Garry, and their families.

For more information on what we do and how we can help, click here.

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