Dr Jill Biden, Second Lady of the United States, invited Help for Heroes and a group of wounded Servicemen, veterans and their families to a special meeting today in order to personally thank them for their role fighting alongside US forces around the world.
Dr Biden, whose stepson Beau served in Iraq, has taken a particular interest in the welfare of wounded service personnel and veterans and their families.
At a special meeting held in London today during Vice President Joe Biden’s official visit to the UK, Dr Biden spoke to a group of 25 injured veterans and their families who are being supported by Help for Heroes and other charities including BLESMA, The Royal Foundation and Walking with the Wounded.
Dr Biden said: “Not only do you inspire countless other wounded warriors, you inspire me, you inspire Joe [Biden, US Vice President] and you inspire Michelle and Barack [US President and First Lady]”
“I am reminded our service men and families have done so much for us, and we must do so much in return.”
Addressing Help for Heroes and representatives of other military charities, Dr Biden said: “It is your dedication and support that has made so much difference to our servicemen and their families.”
Help for Heroes will soon announce the official opening of four UK Help for Heroes Recovery Centres to provide life-long support wounded service personnel, veterans and their families, which are based on the network of centres for injured soldiers established across the United States.
This close trans-Atlantic relationship has also led to the discovery of two British Paralympic athletes, Jon-Allan Butterworth and Derek Derenalagi. In 2008 they took part in a sporting contest for wounded soldiers in the US – the Warrior Games – and subsequently went on to compete in the London 2012 Games, where Jon-Allan Butterworth won two silver medals for track cycling.
Major Pete Norton GC, a bomb disposal officer who suffered serious injuries while working with US forces and the FBI in Baghdad, Iraq in 2005, told the gathering: “Recovery is a long, hard journey. As I see the end of more than 30 years military service fast approaching, I see the rest of my life stretching out. I, and the thousands of wounded like me are “Still Battling” and will continue to do so. We will need the government, charity and private sectors, in both the UK and the US to work together if the concept of “Inspire, Enable and Support… for Life” is to be brought to fruition.”
Help for Heroes co-founders Bryn and Emma Parry said: “In the last 5 years since we founded Help for Heroes, we have constantly drawn both inspiration and support from our American allies. We are greatly looking forward to continuing this partnership during 2013 when we will be supporting some of our wounded warriors to the Warrior Games , and hosting some US Wounded Warriors on our Hero Ride, a huge cycling event that will bring together injured soldiers, veterans and their supporters from all over the UK on a cycle ride which culminates in central London. We have been to visit both Fort Sam Houston in Texas and the Walter Reed Hospital in Washington DC and have strong connections with both the US Department of Defence and our friends in the US charities, particularly the Fisher House Foundation. We are very aware that our wounded servicemen have fought side by side with our American allies and we feel it critical that they also recover side by side.”