Ex-Solider Steve Tuffen, who served in the Falklands thanks Blind Veterans UK for support
12 December 2013 17:25
Steve Tuffen is lucky to be alive after being shot in the head and blinded during the Falklands War has thanked Blind Veterans UK, for its support with his battle against sight loss.
Steve, who lives in Herne Bay, Kent was serving with the Parachute Regiment during the battle at Goose Green of 1982 when he was shot in the head twice and fell instantly. For four hours he was left where he fell, less than 100 metres away from enemy trenches and considered too exposed for anyone to attempt first aid on him. Incredibly Steve, aged just 18, survived.
It was not until many years after his horrific injury, which left Steve with permanent visual field loss, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, epilepsy and memory loss that he became a member of Blind Veterans UK, formerly St Dunstan's, which provides support, training, rehabilitation and recreation to blind veterans, regardless of when they served or how they lost their sight.
Speaking about the support he has received from the charity, Steve, now 49, says: "It is very good to know that they are always there for me. Whenever I need something I am able to ring them up and they will do what they can, whether it's providing an aid for my sight loss or booking me in for some training for a whole range of things such as IT skills. As well as this Art and Craft training is available to members who would like to try it.
"More than anything else I appreciate the charity's help in actually taking me back to visit the Falklands so that I could get a picture of what it was like there and what the little bit of the battle field that I was injured in looked like. I felt that it was very important for me to see this as part of my personal journey to recovery, and the charity recognised this and supported me in this. My memory was very damaged by the injury - I couldn't even remember the names of my parents when I first woke up - so in my sketchy memory I couldn't make out what the place where I had fought and suffered a life changing injury looked like. But thanks to the charity now I can and it has helped me to move on".
Steve's thanks for the support given to him by Blind Veterans UK comes at a time when we aim to reach out to the estimated 68,000 plus blind ex-Service men and women who could be eligible for support.
Launched in October 2012, the No One Alone campaign is aimed at all ex-Armed Forces personnel with sight problems and their families, though Blind Veterans UK is particularly keen to reach the national service generation of men who are now in their 70s and 80s, trying to cope with a severe sight problem and unaware that their time in the forces, however brief or long ago, means they are eligible for the charity's free and comprehensive support.
Steve says: "I think I can speak every member of the Armed Forces when I say that we are not very good at asking for help. I remember bumbling along for a long time suffering with sight loss but refusing to try and seek help for it. I would have medical appointments and always say to the doctor, 'Don't worry too much about me, I am fine" when I wasn't. I think this stems from being with the military and the strong 'I can, I will" attitude you inherit straight way. When I think back to struggling in the past, though I am a positive person and don't like to have regrets, I do wish I had found Blind Veterans UK sooner."
Married to Lorraine, Steve has a daughter, Anita, who works in a care home and a son, Michael, who has joined the Navy. Steve says: "I am a real family man and am proud of my family. They have been supported by the charity too, and have been a real support to me over the years".
Blind Veterans UK launched its No One Alone campaign which aims to reach out to the estimated 68,000 plus ex-Service personnel who could be benefiting from the charity's services but they either do not know about the charity or they do not know that they are eligible for its services.Blind Veterans UK provides exceptional support, rehabilitation, training and recreation to blind veterans, regardless of when they served or how they lost their sight. The charity has three rehabilitation centres in Brighton, Sheffield and Llandudno, North Wales.
To find out more about Blind Veterans UK's No One Alone campaign go to go to: www.noonealone.org.uk or telephone: 0800 389 7979.