AN Army veteran has had a miniature figure made of himself as part of a campaign calling for improvements in the way veterans are medically discharged from the Armed Forces into civilian life.

Tommy Lowther, 37, of Butterknowle, Teesdale, is represented as one of 40,000 miniature model veterans forming part of a Help the Heroes installation unveiled in Manchester’s Arndale Centre.

The charity says the number of figurines is being used shows the true scale of those who put their lives on the line for the country in recent conflicts, but were unable to continue their service due to injury or illness.

Mr Lowther was one of seven Help for Heroes beneficiaries selected to have a figure made of himself as part of the structure.

He was just 18 when he was deployed to Northern Ireland in 2000, where patrolling fierce riots became a regular part of his job.

He is still haunted by the day he was hit by a petrol bomb.

He said: “I remember being engulfed in flames, then kicked and punched. I was terrified.”

Then, while on exercise to Gibraltar he was sexually assaulted by strangers on a night out in the town.

From that point, his life spiralled downwards. He felt ashamed, started fighting and drinking. In 2001, while home on compassionate leave, he was informed he had been medically discharged because of his evidently declining mental health.

Over 25 per cent of medical discharges have been since the end of the war in Afghanistan, despite the British Armed Forces not being engaged in active conflict during this period.

The number of service personnel whose lives have been derailed by injury or sickness grows every day.

In new polling released by the charity, 70 per cent of wounded veterans described their medical discharge as “negative" and over 60 per cent felt they had not received enough support while transitioning out of the Armed Forces.

Mr Lowther: “I felt angry and betrayed. The thing I’d wanted to do my whole life was taken away because of an act that wasn’t my fault. There was no exit interview, no advice given about what I should do next – nothing.”

Mr Lowther, who had also served in the Metropolitan Police for five years, set up Sporting Force to help wounded, injured and sick service men and women in 2014. The charity secures work experience within the professional sports industry for ex-service personnel to offer a possible route into civilian employment.

Help for Heroes chief executive Mel Waters said: “The medical discharge process is seriously failing those who are let down by major inconsistencies in support.

"Many of them tell us that their transition impacted significantly on their health, wellbeing and family.

"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.”

In exchange for a donation to fund the ongoing work of Help for Heroes, supporters can own one of the model veterans used in the 40,000 Strong display. Visit https://shop.helpforheroes.org.uk/collections/donate-to-help-our-wounded-stand-strong.

More information at helpforheroes.org.uk/40thousandstrong.