Former Staff Sergeant Lester Staples served with The Royal Army Medical Corps (RAMC) in a career spanning twenty-two and a half years. During this time he completed tours in Cyprus, Iraq (Op TELIC 1 and 2) as well as being a member of the Corps Football team.
Thanks to the support of funding by Barclays, one of our corporate partners, and the advice of a Personnel Recovery Officer, ABF The Soldiers’ Charity was able to support Lester in attending a passive drug dog handlers’ course. Following his medical discharge from the Army in February 2016, this funding enabled Lester to harness his life-long love of dogs into setting out on a new career path.
“The help of The Soldiers’ Charity is setting me up for a new career… This course is going to get me on my feet with something new: hopefully a long and happy career, a second career.”
We met Lester and his dog, Beans, at Malpeet K9 Academy Ltd in Wales; a company that specialises in the use of operational dog teams as well as dog handler training. The duo were training in Bridgend where they were undertaking ‘line’ work- a highly pressurised exercise for Lester and Beans as they worked together to identify which individual in the line-up was carrying an illegal substance.
Without the assistance of ABF The Soldiers’ Charity, Lester would not have been able to afford the cost of attending the sixteen-day intensive course. The alternative for Lester would have been to resort to various means of funding by taking on several jobs that were unrelated to his chosen field- an unhappy prospect for a senior soldier of over twenty two years’ service. Lester is very grateful to The Soldiers’ Charity for the help he received towards attending the course. He explained: “The help of The Soldiers’ Charity is setting me up for a new career… This course is going to get me on my feet with something new: hopefully a long and happy career, a second career.”
Lester also had some words of advice for soldiers who are also facing the prospect of leaving the Army and embarking upon a new, civilian career:
“I think that a lot of soldiers believe that they’re not worthy. I believe we have always been of that mind-set: they think they’re not worthy of help. But you are. You’ve served your time and you have done something positive for your country, so a bit of payback is well deserved.”