Chinook Crew 'Chick': Highs and Lows of Forces Life from the Longest Serving Female RAF Chinook Force Crewmember

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Chinook Crew 'Chick': Highs and Lows of Forces Life from the Longest Serving Female RAF Chinook Force Crewmember

Chinook Crew 'Chick': Highs and Lows of Forces Life from the Longest Serving Female RAF Chinook Force Crewmember

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My name is Liz McConaghy, and my journey has been quite the rollercoaster – from soaring high in the Royal Air Force Chinook Fleet to facing the deepest valleys of life. And I hope that anyone battling with PTSD can find comfort in my story and know they are not alone in battling with their own demons. As an ambassador for mental health, with a focus on PTSD among veterans, I want to emphasise that our struggles need not define us. The book is peppered with riveting anecdotes, from daring rescue missions to heartwarming interactions with fellow crew members.

When we landed, the engineers actually dug it out of the other side of the aircraft and gave it to me. McConaghy said that the most frequently asked, and least favorite, question over the years has been the challenges she has faced as a female crewman. In a nutshell, your details will ONLY be used by Help for Heroes and Help for Heroes Trading Limited, and we'll NEVER share them for another organisation's marketing purposes. Having said that, teamwork is vitally important on and around the aircraft and McConaghy was never afraid to ask for help when needed, such as if struggling to lift something heavy. Upon leaving the RAF in 2019 Liz slowly became unravelled after a series of traumatic events that compounded her PTSD.The Co Down woman said that growing up and seeing her brother join the Army when she was 16 was where her initial love of the armed forces originated. They’ll stop something else working and they’ll fall out the sky, whereas for us, we’re pretty okay. On one of the days, I went up to Police Barracks for an interview, I pulled my little car into the layby to get past and a Chinook went thudding over the top.

So you can take a lot around you, a lot of battle damage and as long as the engines are still running and you are still going, then you’re okay. As the situation in Afghanistan escalated, McConaghy’s responsibilities grew, leading to some harrowing experiences on the medical emergency response team. I went to see my brother in Palace Barracks the day he was doing his entrance test and I was in the careers office and saw a guy on a magazine hanging out the side of a helicopter,” she said. What follows is sketchy, but the next memory McConaghy has is waking up from a 40-hour coma in a hospital bed in Basingstoke. But just like anything in your body, the bone you break or whatever, with the right time and methods you can heal, and you can move on and recover.

If you or someone you know is suffering, Models for Heroes is a charitable organisation that support the UK Armed Forces and Emergency Services personnel by providing model making as a meaningful activity that promotes wellbeing, skill development and social interaction. Growing up as a child in the Troubles, I always wanted to seek out other countries, I wanted to see the world,” she said.

Commenting on this year's Women in Defence awards and Ms McConaghy's win, Alidad Moghaddam, CEO of Defence Discount Service said: "Liz's journey resonated deeply with us at Defence Discount Service. Liz hopes her book encourages people to join the RAF as she had an "awesome" career and would do it all again in a heartbeat.But one of the unique things is a place “The harbour Area” for veterans and Emergency Service to start a business from. She spent days on end in her small flat in Basingstoke, Hants, binge-eating, getting up in the middle of the night, and looking online for news of soldiers she had worked with. Keep your head down, get stuck in the same as the rest and be the best ‘person’ at your job,” she added. I always used to look at the casualties and the bodies that we pick up on MERT as just a really precious piece of freight because I think if I start to humanise them then that really would have been the start of the undoing of me and I think a lot of people felt the same," McConaghy said.

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