MOBILIZE is an organisation supporting veterans struggling to access treatment, advice or exercise since leaving the military. Retired RAMC Major Cameron Angus founded MOBILIZE, and is helping to relieve the symptoms of PTSD or injury through mindful movement, physiotherapy, Pilates, meditation and group rehabilitation.
I was in the medical corps for 30 years had posts such as head of physiotherapy at Headley Court, Rehabilitation Officer Scotland and London. I have treated and managed injured servicemen and women from the Falkland’s, Ireland through to recent conflicts. I served in Iraq, Afghanistan and Bosnia myself – I was injured and left not in a good personal place. I had periods of homelessness myself – out of choice as I struggled with my service issues – before I found myself giving some help to people who were struggling.
That’s how MOBILIZE started – myself and others gave a bit of help where we could. I had started working in clinics again and teaching to movement teachers, I was able to offer help or point people in the right direction.
MOBILIZE was literally a referral scheme for veterans who weren’t getting any assistance. It started predominantly with the homeless, then we moved to little rehab groups. I moved back to Scotland a couple of years ago and started doing it up here.
We now run a couple of camps every year so people come for a long weekend and we do rehab, Pilates and yoga, and mindfulness. Our focus is on more thoughtful movement combining recovery with hope through a more somatic mind and body approach. We have particularly found Pilates and mindfulness successful but other approaches are good.
The boot camp we run is something we were lucky enough to do. We have a great location in Perth with a studio from a friend of mine, Joachim Valsinger, who was in the Australian TA, with a lovely location with accommodation. People come along and have an assessment, receive a suitable programme, treatment and advice.
We ask – what do you want? What do you need? The weekend is geared around group classes and also specific exercise and things that are good for participants in agreement with them.
Ex-military tend to think of movement as the military PT they experienced, running here and back. As a former physiotherapist in the military that PT was for a different role and is not necessarily suitable for the veteran. We’re trying to get people to be more connected with mind and body, especially those who have been traumatised in various ways.
Military people do use physical activity as a way to help, but they probably don’t realise that going for a run will have a very mindful affect on them. Doing some walking or running connects the mind and body. It’s putting the two together and we try and bring that sort of thing into people’s lives.
It’s thinking about what you’re doing when you’re walking, thinking about your body. A lot of injuries have a somatic experience attached. A somatic experience is how your body processes experiences – we all have triggers. You might have a smell you associate with an experience in your past and you have a much stronger memory. If it is a stressful experience you need to find a way to deal with that, you can do some deep breathing or go for a walk.
We do well because we talk veterans language because we’re mostly veterans, which is a big thing. We have some wonderful volunteer professionals who give the skill and compassion along with motivation to the veterans on our programme.
If you are looking to discover how your health can improve through movement or you want to get involved with MOBILIZE visit their website
As told to Lorne Gillies