Soldier blinded in Iraq thanks his Mum on Mother’s Day for unwavering support

18 March 2014 16:25

Simon Brown, who was blinded by sniper fire whilst saving the lives of six comrades during an Iraq tour, thanks his Mum this Mother's Day for her unwavering support.

Former Corporal Simon Brown, who served with the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers, was left blinded and with catastrophic facial injuries when he was shot in the face by a sniper whilst saving the lives of six comrades during an Iraq tour in 2006. It took many pioneering operations to rebuild his face and he now has just 20% vision in his right eye and none in his left. On this Mother's Day, Simon thanks his Mum for her unwavering supporting during his long and difficult recovery.

Simon said: "My family supported my decision to join the Forces, and they did throughout my career. When I was injured, because of my mother's forces background, she was able to stay strong for me and the rest of the family, to enable us to carry on with day to day living, whilst dealing with a life changing injury that have affected us all. And I will always be grateful for that".

Simon's mother, Wendy Brown, said: "When Simon first had the accident it was a trauma for the family. We didn't know if we were coming, or going or had been. Having lost his sight we knew that it was going to be one heck of difficult journey for Si.

"The thing is, the accident was actually the making of Si. The changes in him have been amazing to watch and I am very proud of him".

Two years after the accident, Simon became a member of Blind Veterans UK, where he has received free, lifelong and comprehensive support. Simon has received a great deal of training and practical support, including a rehabilitation programme to help him adjust to sight loss and go on to live independently.

Simon says: "Becoming a member of Blind Veterans UK was absolutely life changing for me. I remember first going to the charity's Sheffield centre. It was a year after my injury and I felt as though I had already reached a ceiling in my recovery, but joining the charity changed my perception of that very quickly.

"I learnt that I there was so much more training that I could have to regain my independence."

Seven years on, Simon lives independently, works as a Communications and Engagement Officer in Blind Veterans UK's HQ in London and travels up and down the country, trying to raise awareness about Blind Veterans UK's work at exhibitions, conferences, road shows and group presentations. Simon was voted one of GQ's "Men of the Year" in 2011 for his courage was an Olympic Torch Bearer and has been awarded the Queen's Jubilee Award for Volunteering in recognition of his work for disabled veterans.

Wendy says: "Blind Veterans UK supported Simon wholeheartedly, right from the beginning, and we got involved with it together really. I remember when I first spent time at one of the charity's centres and I was made to feel as though everyone knew me, before we had even met. It made us feel as though we were part of the family.

"Si has done so many new things with them, and I do what I can to try and promote its work and help out too. They initially gave him a reading machine, which gave him his independence back because it meant that he was able to read his own letters again.

"Blind Veterans UK has always encouraged Simon to do new things and when it does, we support him all the way. And Simon supports us too; he has always there for us when we have needed him".

We launched the No One Alone campaign to reach out to more people like Simon. It is estimated that there are 68,000 plus blind veterans who could be eligible for Blind Veterans UK's free, comprehensive and lifelong support but are currently unaware of it. Request free support for a veteran you know by calling 0800 389 7979.