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Marine who fought Taliban, illness, and depression releases record

Wednesday 24 July 2013


From the UK's Plymouth Herald:


Royal Marine bandsman Dan Johnson
Royal Marine bandsman Dan Johnson,
who is being medically discharged,
is releasing a CD for forces charities

Marine who fought Taliban, illness and depression releases record

By REBECCA RICKS Defence Reporter @rebeccaricksth

A ROYAL Marines bugler who battled with mental health problems has released an album to support forces charities.

Corporal Bugler, Dan Johnson, is about to be medically discharged from the Corps having been also diagnosed with ME – also known as Chronic Fatigue Syndrome – and degenerative disc disease.

Dan, who grew up in Plymouth, described his struggle with depression and anxiety which he admits led to an attempt to commit suicide in 2010.

His problems started earlier that year when he contracted a viral infection which caused him to continually vomit.

The 30-year-old had not long returned from his second tour of duty in Afghanistan with the medical teams when he joined the rest of the Royal Marines Band in Switzerland for a June tour.

But as the viral infection took its toll he was forced to juggle performances each day with the continuous need to throw up.

His condition baffled doctors for weeks and struggling for a diagnosis Dan said he began to get depressed.

An endoscopy test to find out why he was vomiting so much later came back negative and by October his mental health began to deteriorate.

"I was in a mess by that point," he explained.

"I had lost a lot of weight and there wasn't much I could lose. I was then sent off for a mental health assessment."

In November Dan attempted to take his own life. He told The Herald looking back it had been a "cry for the help" he desperately needed.

He said: "I did then attempt suicide. I went into depression and then went into therapy. It was then that my back problems started."

He was diagnosed with ME and Degenerative Disc Disease.

It was then that doctors sent him for treatment at Headley Court, the centre for injured and ill service personnel.

Dan said having a diagnosis proved to be somewhat of a "relief".

Since being told he would be discharged from the Corps in September he has applied for university and brought out an album.

The album, titled Loyalty (Honour Our Own), is raising money for forces mental health charity Combat Stress and the Royal Marines Association.

The two charities are both close to Dan's heart, as he explained: "A friend of mine in the marines committed suicide last year. It really shook me up, a few of the guys said the age old 'It was selfish', but in the eyes of the sufferer it's not. It's the least selfish thing they think they can do.

"I chose Combat Stress because I can vaguely relate to what the guys are going through."

Although Dan says he does not have Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, he still has flashbacks to a serious incident in Afghanistan which is triggered just by smell.

"I have one of those memories from a mass casualty incident in Afghanistan, it just crops up, there's a certain shower gel I use and the smell drags me straight back to that event.

"Certainly for the guys on the frontline who see their best mate blown up and have to put tourniquets on, that's an incredibly tough memory to deal with for the rest of your life."

Dan also chose the Royal Marines Association, wanting to help other Marines who needed it.

His album is available on iTunes and Amazon and will be stocked locally at Vibes Music.

It features music he wrote during some of the "really tough times" and a song dedicated to his grandfather, a Commando in World War Two, who served during D-Day and with the Pacific Fleet.

Dan Johnson on Facebook
Dan Johnson on Twitter


The above originally appeared here.

Please note: This article contains references to death. If you have feelings of helplessness, or of suicidal thoughts, seek help immediately. Lifeline is an excellent starting point: Lifeline – Suicide Prevention resources and links.


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