Veterans In Action (VIA) started as an idea in early 2008 by three ex Royal Engineer friends, two of whom had been injured physically and one who suffered from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) who wanted to raise funds for injured troops both physically and psychologically.
The idea they came up with was based around their own experiences in the Royal Engineers and was to take a group of veterans on an overland expedition driving from Headley Court to South Africa and back. The aim of the expedition was to carry out small tasks on the way, giving aid to locals with the aim being that they would ‘help themselves by helping others’. This was based around the many tasks that the Royal Engineers do throughout the world and the great feeling and sense of achievement you get from completing the task.
This expedition was called Head 4 Africa and was taken to a leading charity as an idea. We had several meetings with them about this, although ultimately nothing happened with it so it was suggested to the team that they start their own charity, an idea which was never in their original plans.
It was decided to move forward and charity status was granted in January 2009 under the name Veterans International Aid (VIA) which would help veterans through the expeditions they organised, based around the original ideas. On receiving this it was down to Billy MacLeod to move things forward on his own.
“The idea for me was for me to get involved with being in a team once more as it was something I really missed from being in the services and was my reason for wanting to start the charity. I had worked in a fairly solitary job since leaving the army and this had impacted on my life and was the reason for me wanting to do something and ultimately starting the charity. Once again I felt I was on my own which was not where I wanted to be, so the first thing to do was start building a team”. Billy MacLeod
Billy MacLeod then contacted others he had served with in the Royal Engineers to see if they were interested in helping out and during 2009, still mainly on his own, Billy MacLeod attended more events spreading the word about the charity’s aims.
This took Veterans International Aid through until early 2010 where Billy MacLeod planned a long distance walk of 1200 miles from John O’Groats to Land’s End, which would be manned by veterans who either suffered from PTSD or who found the transition to civilian life difficult.
The walk started in May 2010 from the Army v Navy rugby match where the 10 man team of veterans who had been diagnosed with PTSD, plus support team were presented with the match ball by the captain of the Navy team.