A special parliamentary reception was held by a national military charity this week that attracted support from key political, health figures and military figures, who pledged to ensure that veterans in the UK should not have to battle blindness alone.
On Tuesday 2 September, Shadow Defence Minister Gemma Doyle MP, Simon Kirby MP and Martin Horwood MP co-hosted an event on behalf of Blind Veterans UK, the national charity for vision impaired veterans, to highlight the need to reach more vision impaired ex-Service men and women who are not currently being referred to the charity for support
Blind Veterans UK provides free, lifelong support to veterans experiencing severe sight loss. It doesn’t matter how or when a veteran lost their sight, or when they served, Blind Veterans UK provides specialist services and support to ensure that they can rediscover a life after sight loss.
Over 30 MPs attended the event, including Dr Daniel Poulter, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Health, Vernon Coaker, Shadow Defence Secretary, and Sir Bob Russell MP, who joined key representatives from the NHS and related charities, to meet a number of Blind Veterans UK beneficiaries and back the charity’s campaign.
The event also received support from its senior military ambassadors, including Vice- Patron General The Lord Richards of Herstmonceux GCB CBE DSO, Admiral Sir Jonathon Band GCB DL, Air Chief Marshal Sir Joe French KCB CBE, Captain Michael Gordon Lennox OBE, and Air Vice Marshal Paul Luker CB OBE AFC DL, Chairman Tim Davis and President Raymond Hazan OBE.
Speaking at the event, Shadow Defence Minister Gemma Doyle MP said: “Blind Veterans UK provides vital support to our Armed Forces community, and by being at this event, we are recognising the excellent work that the charity does to make sure that blind veterans are able to adjust to life with sight loss. I am pleased to pledge my support to veterans across the UK.”
The event also saw the launch of Blind Veterans UK’s ‘Living the Pledge’ report which set out the current difficulties faced by the veterans’ community, and called on MP’s, local authorities and NHS healthcare professionals to improve referral pathways to the charity so that veterans are signposted to support as a matter of course, once they are diagnosed with severe sight loss. Blind Veterans UK’s No One Alone campaign estimates that there are currently more than 68,000 veterans with vision impairment in the UK, who are not aware of the free support available to them.
General The Lord Richards of Herstmonceux said “I’m extremely proud to be a Vice Patron of Blind Veterans UK which does outstanding work supporting vision impaired ex-Service men and women. This event is crucial in helping us spread the word about Blind Veterans UK’s vital work. We want every MP, health networks and local authorities in the UK to consider what can be done to improve the way veterans are referred to the charity, so that we can ensure every vision impaired veteran gets the support they need and deserve.”