RAF blind veteran talks about the ‘very special’ free support he has received this Eye Health Week
Georges Jurish, 82, is a blind RAF veteran from St. George in Bristol. He has thanked us for the free support he has received and urges other blind veterans to get in touch.
He served in the RAF between 1952 and 1962. Initially posted to the Suez Canal zone in Egypt where he worked as an engine mechanic, he was sent to Iraq 22 months later. Following this he spent some time in the UK working as a general fitter and in 1959 was posted to Germany before being demobbed in 1962 as a corporal.
Georges said “I immensely enjoyed the work I was doing in the RAF. During my time in the Service I joined a band and played piano, which was a lot of fun. Just before my 70th birthday, a friend who served in Eqypt with me, who I haven’t seen in 50 years, got in touch and now we have become close friends once again.”
Following his service, Georges returned to West London with Mercedes Benz for 25 years, and then worked for a truck dealer in Avonmouth before retiring in his 60s.
Georges has age-related macular degeneration which started five years ago and has gradually robbed him of his vision. He was able to cope with his deteriorating sight loss until he reached his 80th birthday when he became completely unable to read. He also suffers with Charles Bonnet syndrome where he experiences hallucinations, particularly at night. Six months ago Georges went to the Bristol Eye Hospital where after an assessment he was classed as being severely vision-impaired.
This National Eye Health Week (19 – 25 September), we’re reaching out to vision-impaired veterans like Georges who could benefit from our free, life-changing support. Regardless of how a veteran lost their sight or when they served, we will provide free, lifelong support to them and their families to help them discover life after sight loss. We estimate that there are currently 59,000 blind veterans that would be eligible to access specialist support, most of whom are not currently aware of it.
At Bristol Eye Hospital he met a member of staff who worked for Action for Blind People. Georges told them he served in the RAF for ten years and they then referred him to us.
After joining the charity he was given a CD player, a tablet which can read out emails and take dictation, and a talking scanner to read out his letters.
Georges said: “I loved reading before I lost my sight and have started listening to audio books. I take frequent trips to the local library with my wife where she helps me to select my next book. Equipment from Blind Veterans UK has been immensely helpful in picking up the detail I had lost before, and has made a significant difference to my life.
“I went to an induction week at the Blind Veteran UK’s Brighton centre where I enjoyed rediscovering the camaraderie I had when I was serving. It was an interesting experience to be around people who were in the same boat as me.
“The centre is a very special place and the staff couldn’t do enough for us. In the past year Blind Veterans UK have helped me immensely. I am very grateful for the difference they have made to my life, and so are my family. I would strongly urge other vision-impaired veterans to get in touch and find out about the support available.”