80 year old National Service veteran Bernard Hammond who lives in Reading with his wife Brenda, joined the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers (REME) for National Service in January 1955 until 1957, which saw him serve in Hong Kong. After his National Service he rejoined the S.E.B. and was awarded the O.B.E in 1988.
It was not until years after serving that Bernard started to suffer from age-related macular degeneration, and as a result was eligible to receive free support from Blind Veterans UK.
Bernard said: “I had no idea that I would be eligible to join Blind Veterans UK as I did not think that people who had served for National Service would count. I thought it was only a place for brave soldiers who had been injured in wartime. Even after I had first talked to someone at the charity, it took a while for me to believe that I was eligible.
Bernard was shocked to learn that there are thousands more people like him who are not getting the support they deserve.
Bernard said: “I was absolutely amazed to discover that there could be as many as 68,000 blind veterans out there who could be eligible for the charity’s support but do not realise this. It is quite staggering. It is a terrible shame because Blind Veterans UK is a wonderful organisation.”
Since he first joined Blind Veterans UK, Bernard and his wife Brenda have been able to meet and form friendships with people going through the same challenges that sight loss can present.
Bernard said: “It is helpful to get to know other people who are suffering from the same difficulties that I have faced, and to learn from them through their experiences.
“Having one-to-one sessions with a ROVI [Rehabilitation Officer for the Vision Impaired] was extremely helpful when I first joined, and my wife and I have enjoyed relaxing breaks at the charity’s centres. As well as this I have been able to use the swimming pool at the centre in Brighton, which is fabulous.”
In this week’s Sunday Express, Bernard shares his story of National Service and the support he has received from Blind Veterans UK since suffering with age-related sight loss, as Blind Veterans UK are the Sunday Express Christmas charity. To support the Christmas appeal make sure to pick up a copy of this week’s Sunday Express or give a gift on our website.
There are 68,000 plus ex-Service men and women who could be benefiting from our services but they either do not know about Blind Veterans UK or they do not know that they are eligible for our services. Do you know a national service veteran with sight problems? Request free support by calling 0800 389 7979 today.