"Any man who is good enough to shed his blood for his country is good enough to be given a fair deal afterwards." - Theodore Roosevelt
For the past eight years we have done exactly what we set out to do; to provide direct, practical support to the wounded, injured and sick. We have done what it says on the tin. We have, are and will continue to support our wounded.
When we set up H4H in 2007, it was as a simple, emotional response to the news of the wars raging in Iraq and Afghanistan. Coffins were coming back, boys and girls were being blown apart, lives shattered and we felt that we simply had to do something to help. The great British public felt the same.
When we launched, the response to our simple message was overwhelming. People who don’t want to wear uniform respect those who do; they get it. People understand that the decision to go to war lies with Government, not the Serviceman. But, if he is injured, we want to play our part in helping him get better. We did not want to stand idly by and say ‘it’s a disgrace’ or that ‘someone ought to do something!’. We saw the problem and addressed it; we did something and we are still doing so.
We began with our mission to raise enough to ensure that our amputees would not have to swim in a public swimming pool. We replaced a broken tent called the Falklands Gym with a state of the art Rehabilitation Complex; it has greatly enhanced Headley Court. It cost half what we were originally quoted; we drove the cost down, the quality up and delivered on time. That’s how we operate and that was money well spent.
We could have stopped then but we listened to the wounded who told us that ‘while a pool will be great, what are we going to do for the rest of our lives?’
So, hearing that, we set out to do our bit to ensure that they would get the best possible support. The Army asked us to fund a Pathfinder Recovery Centre in Edinburgh and we did. Then, as more were wounded in the bloody dust of the Sangin valley, we were asked to deliver three more Centres and we did.
To hear that a former Government Defence Minister didn’t want ‘all singing, all dancing buildings’ begs the question… "Ok, former Minister so I assume you wanted sub-standard, inadequate buildings then?"
To be clear, we were asked to provide the minimum, but with wholehearted support from our donors, we chose to provide the best. Surely that’s what our wounded deserve, as Roosevelt said: a fair deal?
Has it been easy? No of course not. It has been a challenge to raise the money, a battle to deliver on time and to do so at the right price.
But with our supporters, we have done just that and we are hugely proud of what we have achieved so far for thousands of our brave men and women.
Recovery is not measured in the number of beds occupied on any particular night; we are not running a Travelodge. These Centres are helping to rebuild lives.
Our brave boys and girls are not just physically wounded. We are helping those with hidden wounds as well. The numbers we support are growing not diminishing. The wounded do not get better the day the guns stop firing.
There are some who will always take a pop at those who actually do something; those who stand up to be counted.
Help for Heroes has done and continues to do what it says on the tin; we support our wounded. We do that in partnership with the military, other charities, our corporate friends and our superb supporters.
It would be brilliant if the naysayers would stop complaining about Help for Heroes and come and do something to help our wounded and their families. Our boys and girls deserve the very best and we will continue to ensure that they get it.
Onwards and Upwards!
Quote from Col David Richmond, the most senior British Army soldier to be wounded in Afghanistan – now Director of Recovery at Help for Heroes:
“When I was shot in the leg during a firefight with the Taliban in Afghanistan, I had to regrow 10cm of bone in my thigh. It is a long, painful process and I was constantly hit by set-backs. Nothing meant more to me than my family’s support, but I was overwhelmed by the public respect for its wounded and for the way Help for Heroes was there for us when we needed them. Most people who are injured in the Forces are young, have their whole lives ahead of them and find themselves in a very difficult position. The worst thing we could do as a Nation is to neglect those who served their country and take away their hope. That’s why, having first met Help for Heroes when I was recovering on a hospital bed at Selly Oak in Birmingham, I wanted to join the charity when I was medically discharged from the Army.”
Quote from the Ministry of Defence:
“The requirement for the Army Recovery Capability was identified in response to a growing need to look after our people differently. The need for this capability, including Personnel Recovery Centres, was established by the Ministry of Defence and was developed at some speed in partnership with H4H and The Royal British Legion. There was a shared vision to meet the challenges of Iraq and especially Afghanistan. We believe what we have delivered is a significant achievement in an incredibly short period of time, which meets an enduring need and provides infinitely better support than was available previously."
Quote from Johnny Mercer MP (Plymouth), a former Captain with 29 Commando Royal Artillery who served in Afghanistan:
“They were faced with a problem that we (this country) had not thought through. As a country we had not planned for this. Should more have been done? Should a framework have been in place? Should we have done better? Absolutely."
Quote from Jim Davidson OBE, Chairman of the Care After Combat charity:
"Before Help for Heroes, people would look at our forces in a political manner. Help for Heroes made us realise that our troops were people to be proud of and people we should support. We must all work together and we must all support Help for Heroes because if it wasn’t for them, the military charity world would be a sadder place."
You can read Jim's full article on the Care After Combat website.
Key Facts about how Help for Heroes helps:
- Our Recovery Centres are very well used: 3,836 men and women (Serving, Veterans, families as overnight or day visitors) used them between March 2014 and March 2015
- Men and women (Serving + Veteran) with life-changing injuries or illnesses used over 70% of the overnight rooms available at Tedworth House in June and July this year
- Just in July, 622 used Tedworth House for day-time support alone
- Beneficiaries are getting help with welfare and psychological wellbeing, taking part in courses to help them find new careers, and doing sports. We are helping rebuild more and more lives every single day
- H4H does more than Recovery Centres. To date, we have issued £40m of grants direct to nearly 9,000 individuals and nearly 60 specialist charity partners.
- There are a record 6,000 members of our Fellowships – the Band of Brothers and Band of Sisters
- MoD figures obtained through Freedom of Information Act requests revealed that 36,306 men and women have been Medically Discharged since 1991 alone…our Centres only have 200 rooms