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Signpost help to armed force veterans

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Nurses are crucial to veteran care Nurses are crucial for caring for veterans

Last autumn, charity Blind Veterans UK launched the 'No One Alone' campaign to raise public awareness of the fact that there are more than 68,000 national service and armed forces veterans in the UK, battling blindness and sight problems.

These are people Blind Veterans UK can help in practical, supportive ways that enable them live more independent lives and relieve pressure on friends and families as well as on overstretched health resources.

Many people are referred to us by a health professional. Nurses may be a person's first port of call when they can no longer cope or have health problems and they depend on nurses for advice and information about what to do next.

Just asking a patient: 'have you ever served in the armed forces?' or 'did you do national service?' can open a door for them that can literally change their lives, and those of their families.

As Patricia Walker, wife of one of our recent new members explains: 'I work as a full time district nurse and spend all day looking after patients. It was so difficult spending all day at one job and coming home and thinking that I have to start a whole other job; a second job of looking after my husband Graham and worrying about him.

'It was great to see the change in Graham after he came back from Blind Veterans UK for the first time - he was buzzing with all the new information and skills and I think he just cannot believe his luck. He was worried he would end up as a recluse who never left the house and about being a burden.

'I have even started to refer people to Blind Veterans UK through my work as a district nurse and now two of my patients are also members.'

Please ask patients if they have served in the forces and please refer them to Blind Veterans UK: it is free and for life, regardless of when they served or how they have lost their sight. Find out more via the website www.noonealone.org.uk or call 0800 389 7979.

David Bassom, interim head of marketing and communications, Blind Veterans UK

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