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Iraq 20

Twenty years on from the start of the Iraq War, blind veteran Craig shares his experiences with us. Please join us in honouring Craig's service and the role played by our other Iraq War veterans.

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Blind veteran Craig in uniform at the Remembrance parade

The Iraq War changed Craig’s life forever. 

He was blinded by rocket propelled grenades as he fought to capture terrorists in Basra. Craig’s story is a fascinating insight into the extraordinary experiences and sacrifices of our Armed Services personnel.

Will you join us in commemorating the 20th anniversary?

To honour veterans like Craig, we would like to raise urgently-needed funds for blind veterans. Will you donate £20 to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the Iraq War? 

Craig’s rehabilitation has depended on specialist equipment and one-to-one support. With your help, we can offer that to more veterans in need.

By supporting this Iraq 20 appeal, you'll show veterans like Craig that their service is not forgotten.

Please donate
Craig in his combat uniform
Blind veteran Craig, during the Iraq War

Craig went to war aged 18.

In 2003, he and his regiment were excited to be heading to Iraq. He had celebrated his birthday just a week before.

“It was all I wanted to be. I’d trained so much to do my job and here it was, handed to me on a plate at 18 years of age. I quickly went out there and realised that it's not always as glorified as it looked to me. It's not a game or a war film. It's actually real."

His second tour of Iraq began on Remembrance Sunday, 2006. He was now a commander, and he could see the young lads that he was in charge of were excited just like he had been. This time, he knew the reality and he knew they would soon experience it, too.

“You grow up quick. You turn from a boy to a man pretty fast. You’ve got to."

It felt far more dangerous. Craig was in Basra, doing reconnaissance, working with special forces, averaging a strike operation every three days. 

The day his life changed forever.

The day he was injured, Craig was part of a team dispatched to arrest terrorists. His job was to raid the house, secure all the men of fighting age and put the women and children in a separate room. That day, he says, “all hell broke loose."

He was on the building’s roof, fighting for about 20 minutes before he was struck by two rocket propelled grenades – or RPGs. They're normally used for shooting at armoured vehicles or helicopters and the damage they inflict is brutal.

“Yeah, that ruined my day".
Blind veteran

Craig received terrible injuries to his head and arms.

He was treated in Basra and Balud and then, once stabilised, sent to Germany. There, his parents met him, describing their 21 year old son as “smashed”.

Months in hospital in the UK followed and eventually he met someone from Blind Veterans UK. Craig was inspired to focus on adapting to his sight loss and getting mobile again. He made the decision to go to one of our centres for his rehab.

Craig lying in a hospital bed with his eyes bandaged
Craig in hospital

During his stay, Craig met a veteran called George, who was blinded at the battle of El-Alamein in 1942. George shared how angry he’d been until one day he thought: “Who am I actually angry with? Where's this getting me?” He told Craig to move past the anger and to accept his situation. George explained he had moved on, met his wife, had children and grandchildren. He ran his own physiotherapy clinic. That day, George was learning to send emails to his daughter in the US.

Craig says he owes Blind Veterans UK for that meeting. “It made me who am I am today”.

“I looked at him and I thought, why can't I do what you've done? Why can't I be better? I've got technology, I've got more help. You’ve managed to achieve all these things since 1945. I had no excuse not to do better”.
Blind veteran

Craig has not looked back.

He ran the London Marathon for Blind Veterans UK and cycled around France. He’s climbed Kilimanjaro, played blind football for England and Great Britain. He’s been in a film and presented the news. He has a property portfolio of 20 houses and owns an estate agents in Liverpool and is currently trying to build his own house. He has three children and walked coast to coast along Hadrian’s Wall with his nine year old, for charity.

Throughout it, he says he has learned the importance of being positive.

"If you're always trying to do the right thing, then generally it works out OK. Dig deep and carry on and it'll be all right. It's just a matter of time".

Your £20 donation will honour his service

Over the past two decades, Craig has rebuilt his life and now, he just wants the same for his fellow veterans. Your support today will help more ex-Service men and women to rebuild their confidence and independence after sight loss.

For further insight into the Iraq War, read Simon's story.

Simon's war also ended tragically when he lost his sight in combat. His story is packed with both heroism and hope. We feel privileged to share it with you.

Read more
Blind veteran Simon is wearing a blazer, tie, and medals. He looks into camera and holds a photo of himself with both hands.
Blind veteran Simon, holding a picture of himself as a young soldier.

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