Woody’s Lodge has the pleasure of meeting and assisting incredible Veterans who have walked difficult roads yet still find the strength to overcome hardships and inspire others. One such individual is the tenacious Jules Anderson, a female Veteran and mother who served in the Territorial Army and 38 Signal Regiment TA while battling severe mental health issues. After a breakdown, she turned to Woody’s Lodge for help and now enjoys life feeling more relaxed and happier. This is her story.
A teen without a mother
At the age of only 15, Jules lost her mother to cancer.
“My mum, who was a peripatetic teacher, passed away shortly after my 15th birthday. She spent much of her life trying to keep my dad out of hospitals like Rampton since he struggled with mental health issues.”
A father struggling mentally
Jules lost her father in 2020. He was thought to have schizophrenia since childhood and spent some time at Queen Elizabeth hospital in Birmingham receiving Electric Shock Treatment.
“Although he had symptoms of schizophrenia, it was undiagnosed, and it was also possible he was dropped as a baby, resulting in his mental health struggles.”
As a child, Jules watched her parents struggle to make a life for themselves. And as a teenager, she had to navigate the world without a mother, living with a father mentally burdened.
Meeting her stepmom & joining the army
At 18, Jules’ father remarried, setting in motion her journey towards becoming a respected and admired female Veteran.
“My stepmom and I didn’t get along from the time we first met. The situation never changed, and when I was 19, she suggested it was time I left home.
“My dad and stepmom found me somewhere to live and helped me join the Territorial Army. It was the only good deed my stepmom did for me. After three years in 38 Signal Regiment TA, I left to give birth to and raise my daughter.”
A vulnerable Veteran
Jules opened up about the struggles she faced before and after service as a female Veteran.
“I struggled with work and relationships due to mental health issues. At 30, I was diagnosed with Chronic Depression and Anxiety. While battling this, I became a victim of domestic and financial abuse.
“I was very vulnerable. To mask the pain, I married three times to find happiness and had several ill-advised relationships.”
Meeting Mr. Right
Although Jules chased happiness in her marriages, her third marriage was when she found the right person. She explained that her husband has a condition that affects the spine called spina bifida, making him wheelchair-bound. Even so, Jules says he’s very independent and needs little personal care.
A new job, dealing with mental health issues, & discovering Woody’s Lodge
After leaving the military to take care of her newborn baby, Jules eventually started working part-time.
“I ended up in the DoLS Team (Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards) at Nottingham Council, where colleagues helped and supported me. However, for around the last five years of my working life, I had up to a month off every year for my mental health. So I took voluntary redundancy, and a year later moved to Cardiff.”
This led to her missing work, feeling trapped, and discovering Woody’s Lodge when she needed us the most.
“I didn’t realise how much I would miss working and miss going out to work. I found that we had no social circle, and I think I felt trapped. It was only by going to the Firing Line Museum at Cardiff Castle I discovered I could be classed as a Veteran. A few weeks later, I attended a Summer Garden Party at Cardiff Castle, where I picked up a leaflet about Woody’s Lodge.”
A breakdown leads to finding solace at Woody’s Lodge
A couple of months after the Summer Garden Party, Jules had a breakdown, spurred on by the pressures of where they were living, the stress of finding accommodation, and the lack of support for her mental and physical health.
“I rang Woody’s Lodge and spoke to James, who arranged for me to visit the next day.”
Since coming to us, Jules says she feels happier and more relaxed than ever before.
“There are times when I struggle with stress and anxiety, but there is always someone around to talk with. Sometimes, I struggle being around people, but I can take myself off for a walk down to the pond. There is no pressure for me to talk or interact with anyone if I don’t wish to, but there is company there if I need it. It also gives me a respite from caring for my husband and domestic chores while giving me a new social circle and new friends.”
As a thank you to Woody’s Lodge, Jules, wrote a poignant poem dedicated to our work helping Veterans in need. Listen or read her captivating words below:
Relics of conflict
Loss of friendship
A deepening rift.
Locked in safety
In the home.
But then there’s Woody’s
A haven of peace
A place to rest and relax
Where all worries cease.
In a world of confusion
It’s a place to rest
To make friends old and new
To feel wanted and blessed.
So thank you Woody’s
For easing my mind
For appreciating me
And being so kind.
Proudly Welsh Veterans’ Charity
Woody’s Lodge is a proudly Welsh Veterans’ charity that supports Veterans, Reservists, ex-members of the Emergency Services, and their families through financial, psychological, physical, and emotional assistance. We are inspired by those who once served our beautiful country and show our appreciation by helping them reintegrate back into their communities after distressing experiences.
Looking for Veteran support services in Wales? Our team at Woody’s Lodge is here to help. And don’t forget to stay updated with the latest events, news, and insider happenings by subscribing to our newsletter.