Shaun Stocker appeal
Shaun thought his time in Camp Bastion was tough, he had no idea just how tough his next Christmas would be.
The last time I felt like celebrating Christmas was in 2009 - though celebrating maybe isn't quite the word. I was just 19, fighting the Taliban in Afghanistan with the 1st Battalion The Royal Welsh, during the toughest six months of the whole conflict.
This is the first time in five years I haven't spent Christmas battling my way back from my injuries. I couldn't have made it through the hell of the past few years without the help of Blind Veterans UK.
Christmas in Camp Bastion, we did all we could to keep our spirits up. Friends were losing their lives every day around us. Then, just six days before I was due to return home, my luck ran out. While clearing a path, I stepped on a landmine. Everything I knew came to a stop. When I discovered I'd lost both my legs above the knee, as well as my left eye and the sight in my remaining eye, I couldn't take it in.
You might say it was tough suffering life-changing injuries like that just six days before coming home, but if it had to happen, that was the right time. If it had been just six days after my tour started, I would have felt I hadn't done my job. While I was in a coma my military eye surgeon put my family in touch with Blind Veterans UK and they've been there from the beginning, listening to my darkest fears - and helping me believe it was worth the struggle to keep going. Blind Veterans UK gave me the courage to keep going.
"After 18 months, I had an operation that restored about 30% of the sight in the one eye that hadn't been destroyed by the blast. Blind Veterans UK were there to help me make the most of the sight I had. They provided a magnifying aid that helped me start using the phone and reading letters and emails again - so I didn't have to feel that awful loneliness any more."
In time, I started using prosthetic legs, but learning to walk in them is quite a challenge when you can't really see what you're walking on. I must have spent two or three months at the gym door, trying to build up the courage to take that big step outside, with my physiotherapist beside me. It was a struggle, but it was worth it.
I know I'll face new challenges every day of my life. My next big challenge is being a father. Thanks to pioneering surgery my son was born on Christmas Day this year. I want to do everything that any other Dad would do, and I know it's going to be a struggle. But thanks to your kind donations, I know Blind Veterans UK will be there for me as my little boy Theo grows up.
Hundreds of people like me will turn to Blind Veterans UK, all of them in urgent need, just like I was. Perhaps this time it'll be a pilot currently on active service, or a veteran who may have spent many years in the Royal Navy in the past.
Your gift will give a new start to a blind veteran who's sacrificed so much fighting for our country - thank you for your support.
How will your donation help?
A gift of £5 buys a liquid level indicator, a useful gadget which beeps when a cup or mug is almost fullDonate now
A gift of £10 buys a talking watch which allows a blind veteran to keep track of time and take a step towards independent livingDonate now