A FORMER soldier who later changed sex saw death and destruction at first hand while serving with the Army in many of the world’s hotspots.
And on leaving the forces Jennine Jackson, now 47, drifted from job to job and even had a homeless period, living in a van.
But now she’s bounced back and proved it is possible to start again successfully back on Civvy Street, launching her own company in Darlington – a tyre seal company that helps make punctures a thing of the past.
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As Russell Jackson she served with the Queens Lancashire Regiment and saw service in Northern Ireland, Bosnia, Iraq, Belize, Berlin, , Canada, Cyprus, Germany, Kenya, and Oman.
“I have certainly been through it in my life,” she said.
“I saw my driver who I was talking to at the time, blown up and killed n front of me. He was in his truck, I was just outside it. I was thrown 20 feet. He was vapourised.
“When we were in Bosnia, we were the first units to go into certain areas after ethnic cleansing and we saw everything – horrific sights of dogs, cats, cattle and people torn apart. No-one should see that.”
Transgender Jennine was diagnosed with gender dysphoria after her discharge from the army, where latterly she was a quartermaster sergeant at Catterick Garrison.
There she suffered an infection in both eyes and was actually blind for two weeks but managed to get a corneal transplant in one eye and the sight was saved in the other.
“The last few years in the army I established the armoured vehicle fleet at Catterick were I was in command of 72 vehicles and their drivers,” she said.
“My new business is also aimed at maintaining vehicles and after having such responsibility in my uniform life, I know what I am doing and know how to serve my customers.
“I think a lot of ex-services people have a great many skills they can bring to bear in civilian life. Leaving the army can be very traumatic. But it can have a positive effect on the ex-soldier too.”
Her new business, Tyre Seal Darlington, covers County Durham, Teesside and North Yorkshire. For more information visit tyreseal-darlington.com