John Wynn was used to life on the front line, but when he tried to return to civvy street, things fell apart.
John spent almost a decade serving his country in the elite Black Watch, seeing active service in Kosovo, Sierra Leone, Northern Ireland and the Middle East.
The 42-year-old even provided protection for such dignitaries as Tony Blair and Princes Harry and William.
But despite his unblemished nine-and-a-half-year military career, John says he has faced a much tougher challenge trying to be accepted back into the North East.
After leaving in 2001 for family reasons, John has struggled to trust people after a string of events in his personal life left him wary of striking up relationships.
John is now undergoing assessment for post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and is looking at an intensive therapy course thanks to help and support from staff at Norcare Veterans’ Centre in Newcastle’s West End.
However, up until April last year he admits to being ready to completely give up.
“I’m good enough to die for my country but not good enough to live in it,” said John, of Washington.
John, who grew up in Sunderland, was particularly interested in joining the Black Watch because that’s where his dad had served before him.
He said: “I joined the Army because I wanted to see what my father had done. A lot of my friends and relatives said I didn’t have it in me but I joined and I really enjoyed it.”
During his time in the world-famous unit, John was placed on protection duty for Princes William and Harry, as well as the newly-elected Prime Minister, Tony Blair, during the hand-over of Hong Kong to China in 1997.
“I loved my time in the Army. You get to appreciate things more,” he said. “When you’re sat in the comfort of your home watching the telly or looking on the internet you can’t grasp the seriousness or hellishness of other people’s problems.
“When you are there witnessing it for the first time, it’s a strange sense and you are there, part of it.”
But after almost a decade John was forced to choose between his distinguished military career and his family. He left the forces in 2001 in a bid to gain custody of his son.
However, things didn’t go to plan and he suffered a marriage breakdown and the problems continued to pile up for him.
He was constantly being moved from house to house - never able to settle in one place - and finding work was tough too.
He did find one job from which he was sacked and he then had to endure an expensive employment tribunal to prove unfair dismissal, which he eventually did in 2010.
On top of all this, his family disowned him as a result and he wasn’t allowed to attend his father’s funeral.
He said: “I was in a really bad place, I didn’t want to mix with people and I felt like I couldn’t trust anyone.
“I went from a person who represented their country and helped people abroad to someone who wasn’t good enough to have basic living rights since leaving the forces.
“I was about ready to throw in the towel.”
Luckily for him he was put in touch with Norcare Veterans’ Centre, which provides unrivalled support and advice for some of the hundreds of homeless ex-servicemen and women across the UK.
Staff there have helped him get his life back on track by putting him in touch with the right services and organisations.
John added: “They’ve helped point me in the right direction and to get to the appropriate people because I feel like I’m not in a capable position because of the stigma that’s attached with being ex-forces.
“I used to get enjoyment helping other people but I haven’t been in a position to help myself a lot recently.”
John is now working with Norcare to better his life and hopefully get a job and long-term accommodation.
He was keen to share his story to help raise awareness of the invalubale service that the Norcare centre offers ex-servicemen and women.
The organisation is currently trying to raise enough money to enable two more Veterans’ Centres to open in the North East - one in Sunderland and one in Hartlepool.
One of the largest fundraising activities will take place on Saturday, March 29, when Whitley Bay Promenade and beach will be transformed as scores of people take part in the Warrior Beach Assault, a 10k course with both physical and mental obstacles.
Anyone wanting to take part in the Warrior Beach Challenge - which aims to raise £200,000 - can sign up at www.beachassault.co.uk . Entry is £49 a person.