Beneficiary Mark Harrison describes the experience of taking part in The Veteran Games in Israel as a representative of The Not Forgotten in May 2023…
At the end of February I was offered the opportunity to go to Tel Aviv in Israel to compete in The Veteran Games at the end of May: an opportunity not only for myself, but also for my youngest children Finley (11) and Freddie (8), who were invited to come with me. I did not realise beforehand just how incredible this opportunity would be.
I have suffered with PTSD for 25+years, a condition that requires a lot of work to keep on top of each and every day. To be part of an organised event abroad would be tough, the mental barriers would be difficult; but I was determined to make it as it was a once in a lifetime opportunity for me and my children to go somewhere like Israel.
We have just returned to the UK after a truly mind-blowing experience. From the very first minute, every one of the 180 veterans and their families were treated like royalty.
The organisers of the event, comprising of representatives from both the UK & Israel, had everything covered.
Not only was this an event that consisted of competition between British and Israeli Defence Force Veterans, but also cultural visits around a truly beautiful country. We stayed in a very nice hotel on the beach front in Tel Aviv, and had a historical tour of the city.
We visited Jerusalem with a historical tour, taking in many beautiful spots, including the Wailing Wall and King David’s Tomb. We also visited the Dead Sea and had a meal overlooking the desert, where the children made bread and played on bongos!
The children had two days of football training with coaches from two professional Israeli football teams, as well as countless other activities over the week including surfing lessons.
The sporting events in the Games themselves consisted of swimming, Cross Fit and shooting. The support from everyone, regardless of their nationality, was incredible and really spurred us on as competitors. I took part in Cross Fit, which was a very tough event, but I gave it my all. My second event was shooting and I am very proud to say that I came away with a silver medal in this competition.
Overall, this experience has had a huge impact on both myself and my children.
We had so much fun with the other Veterans and their families and we got to know people from a different culture.
We will always remember this trip. I am truly grateful to everyone involved for their hard work in organising this event.