Blind military veterans from the US will head to Wales to join national sight loss charity Blind Veterans UK for an exchange week beginning on Sunday (20/05).
Members of the US organisation the Blinded Veterans Association (BVA) will be visiting Britain through an exchange programme between the Association and Blind Veterans UK called Project Gemini.
Now in its eighth year, Project Gemini enables Blind Veterans UK and the BVA to share experiences and knowledge about matters such as blind rehabilitation and readjustment training, vision research and adaptive technology for the blind. This year the group will be based at the Blind Veterans UK training and rehabilitation centre in Llandudno.
The veterans will engage in adaptive technology activities and sports for the blind including a day of driving buggies and hovercrafts at Hover Force. Other highlights will include a visit to Caernarfon Castle as well as taking on the longest and fastest zip wire in Europe at Zip World.
This year, the project will include a public “Sight loss as a consequence of traumatic brain injury and mental health implications” seminar on May 23 at the University of Manchester. They will discuss veterans’ rehabilitation, eye trauma, Traumatic Brain Injuries vision conditions, and vision trauma research as a special Project Gemini initiative. Guest speakers will include Colonel Robert A. Mazzoli MC, (Ret. Army), Director of Education, Training, Simulation at the DoD-V.A. Vision Centre of Excellence Washington DC.
Major Tom Zampieri (Ret.), a legally blind veteran himself, will also accompany the group as the trip coordinator. He says: “This week, and particularly the seminar, is so important because, by bringing together experts and blinded veterans from different countries, we can learn lessons from each other’s healthcare systems and veterans’ services and influence changes that best support blind veterans in each nation.
“The goal is the achievement of better care for blinded veterans and their families, ensuring that they receive the highest quality of care and support they so richly deserve.”
President of Blind Veterans UK Colin Williamson, says: “Blind Veterans UK is very proud to be welcoming comrades from around the world to the UK.
“This week will be fun but what it’s really about is ex-Service men and women from different countries coming together to share experiences and support each other.
“Continued research into the prevention, treatment and after-care of combat-related eye and brain injuries that result in sight loss is vital and, through Project Gemini, we would like to encourage research and innovation into these specific areas.”
Project Gemini recently won the International Award at the prestigious Soldiering On Awards in recognition of outstanding achievements and comradeship demonstrated internationally by those which have supported the British Armed Forces Community.
BVA traces its earliest beginnings to March 28, 1945 when a group of war-blinded servicemen met at Avon Old Farms Convalescent Hospital near Avon, Connecticut.
Blind Veterans UK was founded in 1915 and the charity’s initial purpose was to help and support soldiers blinded in the First World War. But the organisation has gone on to support more than 35,000 blind veterans and their families, spanning the Second World War to recent conflicts including Iraq and Afghanistan.
For more than a century, the charity has been providing vital free training, rehabilitation, equipment and emotional support to blind and vision-impaired veterans no matter when they served or how they lost their sight.
Visit blindveterans.org.uk/support to learn more about the charity and how you can support its vital work today.
For all media enquiries please contact: Mark Wheeler, PR Manager, Blind Veterans UK, 12 – 14 Harcourt Street, London W1H 4HD, E: firstname.lastname@example.org, T: 020 7616 7980
Notes to Editors
Blind Veterans UK
Blind Veterans UK is a national charity that believes that no-one who has served our country should have to battle blindness alone. Founded in 1915, the charity provides blind and vision impaired ex-Service men and women with lifelong support including welfare support, rehabilitation, training, residential and respite care.