Rob went from being a confident soldier to feeling completely alone
Isolation can affect people who have lost their sight regardless of their age. Young and confident people can suddenly feel withdrawn from the world.
Rob joined the 5th Regiment of the Royal Artillery in 2008 and went on to become a member of the Special Observation Battery. He was in Afghanistan on his first operational tour, when in 2010, his life changed forever.
One of his comrades accidentally triggered an Improvised Explosive Device (IED), which killed his colleague and caused life threatening injuries to Rob.
He sustained severe head and facial injuries, which destroyed one of his eyes immediately and left the other one so badly damaged that it had to be removed later in hospital.
"Everything I knew about how to live had just been ripped away from me. I was starting again."Blind veteran, Rob
Ending feelings of isolation
We visited Rob and after an initial recovery period, he was invited for training and rehabilitation at our Brighton Centre.
"I walked through the [centre] doors for the first time and was greeted by a man who explained that he was a former soldier and was also blind. That was a huge experience for me, realising that even though it’s pitch black it doesn’t mean that I’m now going to be confined and condemned to living in care or relying on everyone else around me."
Rob was taught independent living skills and was able to stay in our specially adapted rehabilitation accommodation.
"It’s basically a small flat with a kitchen, a living room, and bathroom facilities and it’s set up so you can do everything independently. They teach you how to use all the equipment correctly and it just puts you in a situation where you don’t have to rely on anyone and you can learn to live for yourself again."
Rob was also taught to use technology to allow him to feel less isolated and keep in closer contact with the world around him.
"I hadn’t really used any technology - it was 2010 and smartphones were quite new. I’d seen my mates with them, but I just had a basic old phone and that was completely useless to me now."
Our team supported Rob with IT training and how to use a smartphone, which opened up his world to technology again.
"I could get back on social media, and start being part of society and what it is to be a normal young man. Because, at 23, I'd thought, that’s it. My life as a young adult had gone from being at the peak of my fitness and the peak of everything to now possibly living in a retirement home for the rest of my life."
"Blind Veterans UK brought me back to the world and put me back in touch with everything a normal able bodied sighted person could do."Blind veteran, Rob