To mark this year’s Big Give Christmas Challenge 2020, we’re sharing stories from just some of the military heroes who, thanks to your continued support, are rebuilding their lives through the OU’s Disabled Veterans’ Scholarships Fund.
This unique fund is set up so that if a veteran can no longer serve due to disability, they can reskill with the OU for free. Over 160 disabled veterans have already received scholarships to embark on new journeys, including Daniel Bingley, who is part-way through his Computing and IT degree. We asked Daniel to share his story so far and how studying has been a huge help, especially during lockdown:
“In 2012, I was injured in Iraq following an explosion. It seriously damaged my ears and I still really struggle with my hearing. Whilst serving, I also suffered a fall which damaged both of my knees and means I often need to use a wheelchair.
I received two years of rehabilitation but in the end, I was medically discharged. I felt like I had lost it all. I had nothing to occupy my mind and wasn’t able to play the sports I enjoyed to keep myself busy. Dark thoughts started to close in, and I became depressed.
A unique opportunity
After being injured and struggling with life, I couldn’t see what my options were. I found The Open University through Help for Heroes and applied to study a BSc (Honours) degree in Computing & IT in 2018. I did quite a lot of computer networking in the Army and fell in love with it, so being able to choose this as a degree was a brilliant opportunity to better my life and turn my passion into a career. Going forward, I’d ideally like to find a job that would help me manage my mental health, my disability and actually achieve an income so I can be a valued member of society.
It's been hard for everyone in the world lately but being disabled makes it so much more difficult because of the lack of things I can do. Studying has been a really good way to keep my mind active and keep me semi-sane. I haven’t been able to use sport during lockdown to help with my mental health as I normally would and it’s been difficult for me and my family, so the ability to study has been so useful in giving me a focus and deadlines to work to.
It’s been challenging, especially this year, but I’ve been achieving 70% - 80% on my recent TMAs (tutor marked assignments) and doing well. I don’t want to let anyone down. The way I see it is, people have donated to this Scholarships Fund so veterans like me can study and I don’t want to let those people down. I want to achieve as much as I can for me and for them.
Life doesn’t stop when you’re injured
Being injured is being injured, your life doesn’t stop. Having the drive and determination to learn but without the opportunity is very frustrating. Everyone strives to better themselves, everyone’s got to have an end game and the Disabled Veterans’ Scholarships Fund offers the opportunity to keep learning, that’s what really makes a difference.
The OU gives me flexibility, so I can work around my sports training. It also helps me mentally and with my disability. So, if I wake up in the middle of the night, I can get some work done. It works around me. The OU’s support is also great, they help with work placements and they try to accommodate your situation to help you learn to the best of your abilities. This scholarship is such a wonderful scheme that can drive you forward; I’ve recommended it to friends and two are also currently studying.
Exceptional support for exceptional people
When I chose at 16 years old to sign up for the Army, I never imagined being in this situation and leaving the military disabled.
That's why I'm helping to promote the OU's Disabled Veterans' Scholarships Fund, which helps disabled veterans like me feel we have a second chance at a career, and we can feel valued again.
You've so kindly helped us to reach our match-funding goal for this week's The Big Give Christmas Challenge, but any donation you make to the Fund will still make a huge difference to the veteran community and allow the OU to offer even more scholarships. So please donate if you can. It sounds simple to say but your actions could be changing a life. You really can physically change someone’s life by giving them an opportunity to better theirs.”