Leeds & West Yorkshire

Blind Morley veteran to share rehab tips with US

Simon Brown Image copyright Blind Veterans UK
Image caption Simon Brown was blinded in 2006 when he was hit by sniper fire

An Iraq-war veteran who lost his eyesight when he was shot by a sniper has flown to the US to meet blind and visually-impaired service personnel.

Simon Brown is travelling to Illinois with the Blind Veterans UK charity to share best practice methods with their American counterparts.

The travelling group will meet with 11 veterans of the US Operation Iraqi Freedom injured during the Iraq war.

Mr Brown, from Morley, was blinded in 2006 during a rescue mission in Basra.

Mr Brown, 37, was a corporal in the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers when he was shot in the face by a sniper, the bullet destroying his left eye and damaging his right eye.

Back in the UK his cheekbones and nose had to be reconstructed using titanium, his jaw broken and remoulded and a prosthetic eye fitted.

He is one of six members of Blind Veterans UK taking part in the week-long trip to the Department of Veterans Affairs' Central Blind Rehabilitation Center, near Chicago.

Image copyright Blind Veterans UK
Image caption Mr Brown said the trip to America would be focussed on sharing best practice methods

Speaking about his American counterparts, he said: "We've been fighting together since World War One and if we can fight together we can get better together."

He added: "We will be sitting through a normal week of their rehabilitation programme and our role will be about giving feedback about any changes that could be made and things that we thought were good.

"In the UK we are very strong on the emotional side of support and they are very much more about practical support in America.

"That's what we're taking out there, that more personal touch."

The trip is the sixth organised between Blind Veterans UK and the Blinded Veterans Association.

Mr Brown, who works as a communication and engagement officer for Blind Veterans UK , said the support the organisations offer is vital to helping service men and women recover.

"It's given me my life back," he said. "They took me from a coma to full-time work in the space of six years. For people like me the support they offer is a lifeline."

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