A squad of military veterans suffering from mental and physical problems following their time in Iraq and Afghanistan have set off on a “therapeutic” expedition.
The 11 ex-Royal Marine, Paratroopers and UK Army servicemen and women are venturing on an off-road journey from the north-east to the north-west of Scotland, deploying from Dunnottar Castle on Friday with a mission to arrive at Ardnamurchan Lighthouse by Wednesday.
The challenge has been organised by new charity VetRun180 and facilitated by Sandgrouse Travel.
The charity’s first week-long trip to Scotland is classified as “adventure therapy” for groups of medically discharged UK-forces personnel.
VetRun180 is using six expedition-ready Land Rover Defender 110s, some of which have been specially converted for the double amputee members to hand operate.
And to adhere to new Scottish Government social distancing rules introduced today, the team has also split into two groups of six and are Covid-19 testing participants as part of the journey.
Ross Turner, one of two serving crew members who will support the trip, said the goal of the expedition is to challenge the team and foster a sense of achievement.
He also believes the trip helps ex-servicemen and women form long-lasting friendships with those in a similar situations, which it is hoped could forge strong support networks.
Mr Turner said: “This hasn’t been done before, so when we got the opportunity we jumped at the chance.
“We’ve done a lot of coast-to-coast expeditions, but we hadn’t done one in Scotland with the rugged terrain.
“This has been set up as part of the recovery process for veterans to get away on adventure therapy to get lads and lassies back into the surroundings they’ve been used to throughout their military careers.
“We’re putting them back through their paces – our motto is that ‘if it doesn’t challenge you then it won’t change you’.”