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Tough times and tackling turning points

Tough times and tackling turning points


13 Jan, 2021

NASA astronaut Steve Swanson recently met military veteran Jack Cummings in an inspirational episode of the Resilience Sessions podcast …

Inspirational astronaut Steve Swanson has told how his first glimpse of the Earth from space was an anti-climax. The former commander of the International Space Station expected to experience reverential impact from the sighting, akin to ‘a halo with light coming down with music’, but after a quick glance he went straight back to work.

‘We were over the oceans and I could see blue water with clouds, which is kind of cool,’ Steve revealed in a recent Resilience Sessions podcast (a series that brings together members of Blesma, the limbless veterans, and public figures to talk about meeting challenges and overcoming adversity).

In this affecting episode Steve, 60, who completed two space missions with five space walks and logged 195 days in space, spoke with former Royal Engineer and Blesma member Jack Cummings, who lost both his legs to an IED while on patrol in Afghanistan.

They shared their ways of dealing with tough moments in their lives and how they faced turning points as they grappled with challenges.

Swanson was in the middle of a 12-year training journey to become an astronaut when seven of his colleagues died when the Space Shuttle Columbia disintegrated as it re-entered the atmosphere in 2003.

‘It was difficult; we knew them really well. It hurts a lot,’ he says. ‘You are trying to work out what has gone on and how to get back to flying again at the same time as you are mourning. There is self-reflection too: did I want to get back on one of these things?’

Jack, from Didcot, was only 22 years old when he was injured, losing both legs on his second tour of duty in Afghanistan. His determination to not let the devastating injury beat him sustained him through a long rehabilitation process, but later Jack lost focus when he returned home and to a life outside the Forces.

Helped by his wife, however, Jack managed to shake off depression, regained his zest for life and plunged into sport, winning a bronze medal for swimming at the Invictus Games in 2017 and completing the London Marathon wheelchair race the following year.

Steve, who only decided to become an astronaut after completing a master’s degree aged 25, adds: ‘It wasn’t always a straight path. I made mistakes and did things that weren’t smart, but those things helped make me who I am. I think you should try different paths, and never pass up an opportunity for something new.

The Resilience Sessions, devised by The Drive Project and Blesma, grew from the Making Generation R campaign, which trains members of Blesma to tell their incredible stories of overcoming adversity and has now reached more than 100,000 frontline workers, first responders and young people. 

The Resilience Sessions podcast is featured on the Samaritans well-being app for veterans and is also being used as a well-being resource for NHS staff.

The podcast series, which publishes a new episode every Tuesday, features NASA astronaut and Commander of the ISS Steve Swanson, singer and comedienne Judith Owen, Chief Fire Officer and psychologist Sabrina Cohen-Hatton, and former SAS officer Billy Billingham MBE, who stars in the hit TV adventure series Who Dares Wins.

Listen to the podcast here

Watch the podcast on the Resilience Sessions YouTube Channel

For more about the work of Blesma, The Limbless Veterans, click here


About the Resilience Sessions

The Resilience Sessions is a podcast that brings together injured veterans from Blesma, The Limbless Veterans charity, with well-known public figures to share their stories of overcoming struggles of all kinds. The podcast grew out of the Making Generation R campaign, a project that trains injured veterans from Blesma, The Limbless Veterans to share their incredible stories of overcoming adversity with schools and workplaces across the UK. To date, Making Generation R has inspired more than 100,000 young people, frontline workers and first responders.

The podcast is funded by charity Blesma, The Limbless Veterans and delivered by The Drive Project, an award-winning creative social enterprise.

For more information, please email

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