INVICTUS Games veteran Andy Phillips, from Malmesbury, is hoping to be selected for the UK team at the latest renewal of this global phenomenon to be held in Toronto, Canada from September 23-30.
And this year he was joined at the Invictus Games UK Team Trials, held in Bath last month, by his sister Clare Langham-Phillips, who is also an archer.
Some 306 people applied to be part of the UK team’s assault on the 2017 Invictus Games, with a 90-strong squad due to be announced at the end of May.
Help for Heroes is leading the work to train, select and develop the UK team.
Andy, a former RAF aircraft technician (weapons) competed at the Invictus Games in both London (2014) and Orlando last year.
Sister Clare, 49, who serves as an aircraft technician (mechanical) at RAF Odiham in Hampshire, is new to Invictus, having been encouraged to take part by Andy after seeing how beneficial archery has been in his recovery.
Andy was medically discharged after 10 years of service, having sustained a spinal injury during the First Gulf War.
But it was the impact that the injury and having to give up his military career had on his mental health that held him back for the next 20 years.
“I suffered from depression and I had anger issues but I didn’t realise it,” explained Andy. “I developed an addiction to prescribed drugs and at one point I was homeless.
"My recovery should have started in 1993 but it didn’t start until 2014 when I heard about the Invictus Games and approached Help for Heroes.
“I thought it was a tiny event but it’s grown into this beast. The Invictus Games has totally changed my life.”
Clare is the most senior female non-commissioned officer at RAF Odiham.
She has served for 30 years but since 2013 depression has limited her career and in 2016 she was diagnosed with chronic fatigue syndrome.
“For a while I fell apart,” she said. “I planned to serve until I was 55 but I’m now likely to be medically discharged.”
Clare was encouraged to try archery while undergoing rehab at Headley Court.
Inspired by seeing her brother turn his life around, she was keen to give it a go.
Clare said: “I didn’t want to compete against my brother so I chose to have a go at recurve archery.
“When I attended the first Invictus training camp in January I was apprehensive. If Andrew wasn’t there to support me I’d have found it difficult.
“The next time I saw some friendly faces and I knew I was fine.”