Former Royal Marine Commando on 900-mile mission to support veterans
- Credit: It All Starts With One Step
A former Royal Marine Commando is undertaking a lone mission from John O’Groats to Land’s End, raising money for an online community of past and present military personnel and emergency service workers.
Mike ‘Buster’ Keatings, from Yatton, set out on the 900-mile journey on August 31 and has so far raised more than £6,500 for the Op Spartan group.
Keatings shared his own experience with the Op Spartan Facebook group, which is run by army veterans.
He said: “The group can give first-hand solutions that the NHS can not offer.
“Each member has an understanding of the effects conflict and trauma can have on you – as great as the NHS is, very few professionals have experienced the same thing.”
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Following his time in the Royal Marines, Mike joined Avon and Somerset police.
After six years of service, he retired partly due to battling post traumatic stress disorder.
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He said: “You can lose your identity after leaving these services, a lot of the group’s members struggle with opening up about it.
“A broken leg is a visible injury and can be healed, but there is no easy cure for a broken mind if it cannot be seen.”
Mike powers through his mission carrying all the supplies he needs; a tent, spare clothes, cooking supplies and food.
The ex-Royal Marine Commando revealed he took up running just months ago.
He said: “I started jogging 30 minutes each day and built on that.
“My journey is symbolic – it shows how important taking each step is.
“During lockdown, many people, inside and outside the Op Spartan group, have felt lonely or miss someone – each step, or day, you take is a step towards your goal.”
Mike now covers the distance of a marathon each day.
He added: “Every day I meet different people, and each day I am blown away by how generous and kind they can be.
“I originally asked for £500 because it seemed arrogant to ask for more – we have now raised £6,600 and strangers are offering to pay for me to stay in hotels on my travels.”
Mike looks forward to a well-earned rest when he reaches his goal.