Three brave ex-soldiers who were left in utter despair after ­being medically discharged today reveal how they rebuilt their lives.

They were all supported by charity Help For Heroes, which says 40,000 men and women were released from the forces on health grounds in the past 20 years.

Despite often suffering from long-­lasting physical and mental injuries, 70% feel the support the Ministry of Defence (MoD) gave them was inadequate.

Dave Watson, 33, lost both his legs and his right arm when he stepped on an ­improvised explosive ­device in Nad Ali, Afghanistan, in 2010.

The former Scots Guardsman, from Worcestershire, had to pay £122,500 out of his compensation settlement in 2015 for an operation to put metal rods in his legs so he could walk again without pain.

He asked the MoD for help but was forced to pay for it himself.

Paul Colling said it felt like his world had ended

He said: “The MoD could support us more, they could do a lot more. They need to step in because we do go out there and put our lives on the line.

“When you get discharged you lose that morale. In the US when their soldiers get injured they get treated like celebrities, that’s not the case here.”

Kevin Gray, 48, joined the Royal Artillery in 1987 and served in the first Gulf War as well as in Northern Ireland in 1992 during The Troubles.

The father-of-six was medically ­discharged with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) in 1995 and tried to take his own life three years later.

Kevin, from Fleetwood, Lancs, has since rebuilt his life with support from Help For Heroes, who taught him how to make bespoke rocking horses.

Kevin has re-built his life since leaving the Armed Forces and now makes model rocking horses

He said: “I personally had nothing to do with the MoD when I was discharged. They said it was time to call it a day and told me to go and see a doctor. I got signed off with ­anxiety and ­depression and discharged.

“I took an overdose in 1998 and it was after that that I started getting in touch with helping other veterans. I started seeing what other people were suffering in myself. I didn’t realise I had PTSD for a long time. Improved

“I would like to think that systems have improved since then, that if people ever suffer there are provisions in place to help them. Unfortunately it falls down to ­charities like Help For Heroes to do this.

“They do a great job and are there for you 24/7 but the MoD should do more.”

Former Army PT Paul Colling tore all the ligaments, tendons and ­cartilage in his left leg in 2003.

This went undiagnosed until 2013 when it was discovered that he had 30 breaks in his leg.

He also suffered a brain injury in 2015 and was medically discharged from the Army in 2017.

All three men, including Watson, have been helped by Help for Heroes

The 34-year-old, from Fleet, Hants, was trying to become an instructor at Sandhurst (the Army’s officer training base) until he was unable to walk.

Paul, an Iraq and Afghan veteran, fell into a deep depression and tried to kill himself twice before Help For Heroes helped him turn his life around.

He said: “Instead of going to try and be an instructor at Sandhurst it was, ‘You are broke and you have to leave’. It was like your world ended really. It is everything you have fought for just gone.

“I did not believe in myself any more as a person. So that was the hardest part –fighting you own battles and demons.”

With the support of Help For Heroes, Paul has since transformed his mentality and is in a much more positive place.

He said: “I know so many people who have got out (of the military) and had no support. I am trying to be a voice for ­people who aren’t getting help.

“Everyone should get it. I am lucky and I want support extended to everyone ­rather than just the lucky ones.”

70% of the 40,000 people who left through illness or injury in the past 20 years said their transition to civilian life was negative

All three men were speaking at the launch of the charity’s campaign for ­medically-discharged veterans to receive more support.

It said 70% of the 40,000 people who left through illness or injury in the past 20 years said their transition to civilian life was negative.

Mel Waters, CEO of Help for Heroes, said: “The medical discharge process is seriously failing those who are let down by major inconsistencies in support, so we’re calling on the Government to ­commission an independent review of the process to close those gaps.

“With the public’s support, we’re on a mission to ensure every wounded hero has the best opportunity to stand strong in civilian life.”

Last night, the MoD said fewer than 2% of personnel who had served in the armed forces over the past 20 years were ­medically discharged, and said the tens of thousands who had been followed a long period of military conflict.

A spokesman said: “The 36,696 personnel medically discharged over 20 years reflects a period of high-operational ­tempo, including conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan.”