Blind veteran from St Helens celebrates Armed Forces Day

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Bernard Meehan, 64-years-old, from St Helens, is a blind Army veteran who served in the Royal Corps of Signals.

Bernard, alongside other vision-impaired veterans and Blind Veterans UK ‘s community team, will come together at the Armed Forces Day national event 2017 to celebrate the men and women who have served, and are currently serving, the country.

They will showcase the work Blind Veterans UK does within the community and raise awareness of the free lifelong support offered for ex-Service personnel coping with sight loss.

Bernard said: “This is the most important Armed Forces celebration. It brings together the Army, Navy and Royal Air Force as the family we’ve always been.

“Even when you leave the Armed Forces you are still part of this family. It’s like how I feel about Blind Veterans UK: being part of a big family.”

Bernard lost his sight after a stroke in 2009 and for the last seven years he and his family have been supported by the charity.

Bernard said: “The national event will be a good opportunity to show the charity’s work to thousands of people and will help other vision-impaired veterans to access those great services.

“Blind Veterans UK taught me to focus on the things I can do, not on things I can’t do. But with all the equipment and the support they’ve been giving to me I can do almost everything! It brought my independence back.”

Blind Veterans UK is currently supporting 172 veterans in Merseyside, but the charity estimates there could be more than 1,000 ex-Service personnel in the county who would be eligible for its free services.

For Jason Scott, Blind Veterans UK’s Member Support Worker in Liverpool, the event will be a great time to recognise the efforts of those men and women and to encourage more vision-impaired veterans to apply for free

services and support.

Jason said: “It’s an opportunity to come together and celebrate Service men and women from past and present. It’s also a chance to reassure vision-impaired veterans we are here for them.”

Blind Veterans UK was founded in 1915 and the charity’s initial purpose was to help and support soldiers blinded in the First World War. But the organisation has gone on to support more than 35,000 blind veterans and their families, spanning WWII to recent conflicts including Iraq and Afghanistan.

For more than a century, the charity has been providing vital training, rehabilitation, equipment and emotional support to blind and vision-impaired veterans no matter when they served or how they lost their sight.

At this time, Blind Veterans UK is supporting 4,500 veterans in the UK but know there are many more out there. The No One Alone campaign is reaching out to the estimated 59,000 vision-impaired ex-Service men and women who are battling severe sight loss, who could be eligible for support but don’t currently realise it.

“Most of these completed their service many years ago, and have since lost their sight due to conditions such as macular

degeneration or glaucoma.

If you, or someone you know, served in the Armed Forces, including National Service, and is now battling severe sight loss, find out how Blind Veterans UK could help by calling 0800 389 7979 or visiting blindveterans.org.uk