Last week we welcomed blind veterans from the US and South Africa to our Llandudno centre as part of our Project Gemini.
Project Gemini is an exchange programme which enables our blind veterans and the BVA (Blinded Veterans Association) to share experiences and knowledge about blind rehabilitation and readjustment training. The veterans also discuss vision research and adaptive technology for the blind which may differ in the US and South Africa.
Each year members of the BVA cross the pond to catch up with our blind veterans and take part in new activities and experiences. Later in the year, our veterans then fly over to the US to do the same.
This year Major Tom Zampieri (Ret), a legally blind veteran himself, accompanied the group as the trip coordinator. The group took part in many activities such as paddle boarding and buggy driving.
“This week is so important because the three groups of veterans are able to share helpful hints about coping with blindness and the “war stories” that are part of their personal adjustment to blindness and subsequent rehabilitation” says Tom.
“We’ve learned about strategies for coming to terms with sight loss, lessons from the American, British and South African healthcare systems and veterans’ services, and how all of our organisations can best support blind veterans in our three nations.
“This year’s exchange was particularly special as we visited Wales for the first time and stayed at the Blind Veterans UK rehabilitation and training centre in Llandudno.”
British blind veteran Colin Williamson says: “Blind Veterans UK is very proud to have been able to welcome comrades from around the world to Wales.
“The week was great fun and we had brilliant weather but what it’s really about is ex-Service men from different countries coming together to share experiences and support each other.”