When the scourge of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) sees military careers cut short something extraordinary can be a real boost to restoring a sense of confidence and pride.

For nine veterans (five Army & four Royal Marine) damaged mentally and physically by the wars in Bosnia, Iraq and Afghanistan, it took the vast expanse of the Sahara Desert, cars costing less than £350 and an organisation called Driven To Extremes to help them get back on track.

Driven to Extremes was conceived by Mac Mackenney, Managing Director of expedition specialists Max Adventure, in order to fulfil a need to offer Veterans suffering from PTSD an alternative form of therapy where conventional methods of treatment may not have the desired effect.

The basis of the ‘Dakar Challenge 2018’ was to take a handful of vehicles completely unsuitable for the desert, in this case 16-year-old Citroen Berlingo’s, fill them with veterans and get them to drive across the original Dakar Rally route through Morocco. Covering 1,000 miles of sand, gravel and rock, the challenge was exactly what attracted the veterans to the project.

With the aim of the expedition to regain the teamwork and camaraderie they experienced in the Armed Forces, the participants immersed themselves in a challenging and extreme environment surrounded by people they share a common bond with – something so many veterans greatly miss.

Setting off from Gibraltar, across the narrow Straits and into the wonders of Africa, the adventurers spent the next two weeks encountering mountain passes, salt flats, boulder strewn tracks and the powdery golden sands of the Sahara Desert. With a host of the associated problems that come with such a route: punctures, broken oil sumps, missing exhaust pipes and of course endless bog-ins all had to be dealt with. The adventure took the veterans to the edge of nowhere and back aga
in.

 

Driven to Extremes is intending to repeat the expedition next year as a fund-raising event in which members of the public can take part driving their own cheap cars. They are hoping the participants from this inaugural expedition will become part of the Support Crew for the next one.

Veterans struggling with PTSD related problems, who would like to take part in an extreme driving expedition can contact info@driventoextremes.org or visit the ‘Driven to Extremes’ website and Facebook pages.