AN ARMY veteran from Tillicoultry has travelled to America to proudly serve his country in a major sports event for injured and sick servicemen and women.

Tom Hunter, who served in the Royal Artillery, is one of 40 veterans and service personnel who have been selected by Help for Heroes to represent the UK at the 2018 Warrior Games, which began last Friday.

Not only that, but he has also been chosen to be the team’s vice-captain and torch bearer during the opening ceremony.

Tom, 55, has suffered from PTSD since 2003 and, four years ago, was diagnosed with Dementia Pugilistica – also known as punch-drunk syndrome.

He and his wife Lorna lived in Stirling until two years ago when they moved to North Yorkshire to live close to the Help for Heroes Recovery Centre, Phoenix House in Catterick Garrison, which offers support to them both.

The athletes will take part in the 2018 Department of Defense (DoD) Warrior Games from 1-9 June in Colorado Springs.

Around 265 service members and veterans representing teams from the Army, Marine Corps, Navy, Air Force, Coast Guard and US Special Operations Command (SOCOM), as well as the United Kingdom Armed Forces, Canadian Forces and the Australian Defence Force will participate in the competition.

The UK Team, which is supported and delivered by Help for Heroes, will take part in nine adaptive sports: athletics, archery, cycling, indoor rowing, sitting volleyball, shooting, swimming, powerlifting and wheelchair basketball.

Tom, a former physical training instructor, will be competing in athletics, with the 400m and 1500m contests, as well as the four-minute and one-minute rowing races.

The 55-year-old said that the opportunity to participate in sport again means everything to him.

He added: “The training I’m doing gives me a reason to get up in the morning and I feel I have a place in society once more. And to be part of a team of military, and like-minded, people again will be wonderful."

Tom’s wife Lorna will be accompanying him as his carer and will be taking photographs to add to the memory book that she has been compiling ever since his dementia diagnosis.

Martin Colclough, head of sports recovery at Help for Heroes, said the charity recognised the importance of sport in an individual’s recovery.

He said: “Not only does it help physically, sport empowers Veterans and provides huge psychological benefits too including improving self-confidence and self-esteem.

“The Warrior Games provides the opportunity for these men and women to proudly serve their country again and have a second chance at life,” he added.

“The Warrior Games team represents just 40 of our wounded heroes; there are thousands more out there that need our support, for life.

"We’d encourage anyone who wants to try something new as part of their recovery to get in touch with Help for Heroes, there’s something on offer for everyone.”

Anyone that is wounded, injured or sick military personnel or veteran and in need of support should visit Help for Heroes’ Get Support pages.