After joining the Army at just 16 years old, OU student Daniel Bingley was flying high in a military career when a terrible injury turned his world upside down.
“In 2012, I was injured in Iraq following an explosion,” Daniel tells us. “It seriously damaged my ears and I still really struggle with my hearing.” Whilst in service, a terrible fall severely damaged both his knees meaning that he often requires the use of a wheelchair.
“I received two years of rehabilitation but in the end, I was medically discharged.”
‘I felt like I’d lost it all’
Daniel now had to adjust to his life outside the military while coping with his physical disability. He had nothing to occupy his mind and wasn’t able to play the sports he enjoyed so much to keep himself busy. Dark thoughts started to close in, and Daniel slipped into depression.
It was at this time that Daniel signed up with Help for Heroes, who introduced him to sports he was able to do. They also promoted The Open University’s Disabled Veterans’ Scholarships Fund to Daniel, which provides free education for those injured during service.
Daniel applied to study a BSc (Honours) degree in Computing & IT and was part of the first year of students to start their scholarship in 2018. Since then, the OU has offered 105 to servicemen and women to help them rebuild their futures.
‘Studying helps me mentally and with my disability’
Daniel says that distance learning gives him the flexibility to learn in his own time, in his own way. He has a structure in place that works around his mental health and physical disability, and also has the OU’s support team to help him through his learning journey.
“After being injured and struggling with life, I couldn’t see what my options were. The Open University gives me flexibility, so I can work around my sports training. It also helps me mentally and with my disability. So, if I wake up in the middle of the night, I can get some work done. It works around me. The OU’s support is also great, they help with work placements and they try to accommodate your situation to help you learn to the best of your abilities.”
Life doesn’t stop when you’re injured
Through his degree, Daniel can put his interest in IT and the training he received in the military to the best use. His ultimate goal is to show employers just how much disabled veterans can bring to the workplace and to begin working within the computer science industry.
“Being injured is being injured, your life doesn’t stop. Having the drive and determination to learn but without the opportunity is very frustrating. Everyone strives to better themselves, everyone’s got to have an end game and the Disabled Veterans’ Scholarships Fund offers the opportunity to keep learning, that’s what really makes a difference.”
Exceptional support for exceptional people
Despite suffering unimaginable trauma, both physically and mentally, disabled veterans like Daniel haven’t lost their determination and drive. They want to build a bright and secure future for themselves and their families. The Disabled Veterans’ Scholarships Fund can help make this a reality.
One week to make double the difference.
From noon 3rd to 10th December, we’re taking part in the Big Give Christmas Challenge to raise funds so that more disabled veterans like Daniel can study for free. During this week, any gift you give will be doubled at no extra cost to you. So your support will have twice the impact.
Want to be involved?
Take part in the Big Give Christmas Challenge and help change more lives.
Learn more about the Disabled Veterans’ Scholarships Fund.
Carly Sumner is a Digital Content Officer in the Development Office at The Open University. She loves telling stories and has spent the past 10 years writing about everything from nappy bags to balance transfers. She holds a BA (Hons) in Journalism and Media Studies from Coventry University. When she’s not writing, Carly enjoys reading, sharing good food with great people, and all things colourful.