A sniper's bullet changed my life forever

Simon Brown Holding up Veterans' Lottery Card

Veterans’ Foundation is proud to support Blind Veterans UK, we gave a grant to the charity to help them continue to offer the great work they do. Operating since 1915, Blind Veterans UK helps our Armed Forces veterans rebuild their lives after suffering sight loss.  

Simon Brown is one veteran who has been helped by the charity, he spoke to us about his injuries and his recovery. 

Simon knows firsthand what it is like to face seemingly impossible odds. He is grateful to be alive and attributes his health and confidence in no small part to the great work Blind Veterans UK has done with him.  

Everyone who plays the Veterans’ Lottery, donates to the Veterans’ Foundation or leaves a little something in their wills to Veterans’ Foundation supports every amazing charity that we give grants to. We couldn't do it without you.

Video Transcript

My name’s Simon Brown, I joined the Army in 1997. I served thirteen years in the military.

In that time I did three operational tours, one in Kosovo, two in Iraq. I was a mechanic in the Royal Electrical Mechanical Engineers. So my job basically was the AA for the military.

In 2006, on my second operational tour of Iraq, I was the commander of a recovery team. We were tasked to go in under fire to recover a vehicle with six crew onboard.

We got into the area, we successfully recovered the vehicle and got all six people out of there. But unfortunately, during the extraction we had an issue with dust, the driver couldn’t really see where he was going.

So I put my head out the top of the turret, informed the driver it was clear if he drove straight on. And as I went to pull my head back in the turret, that’s when I felt the impact on the side of my cheek.

I’d been shot by a sniper, and the bullet went my left cheek here, came out of my right cheek. And as you can imagine it ruined my Wednesday morning. 

I was fortunate enough that the bullet didn’t knock me out, which meant I was able to do my own first aid. For 20-25 minutes until we got to the medical facilities I was able to hold up my pallet to keep my airway open, and then once we’d got back to the camp at Basra Palace, the medics got hold of me and put me into a drug induced coma. 

The next thing I knew, it was Christmas Eve 2006 eighteen days later, and I was being told that. Basically, my reality had completely changed, I was going to spend the rest of my life as a blind man. My misconceptions of disability and my naivety to that world terrified me and all I could focus on was. Everything that had been taken away, everything I’d lost. There was anger there because I’d fought so hard. 

To stay alive on the battlefield. I thought I’d been cheated, I thought what kind of reward is this for the work I’ve done. I wasn’t sure I wanted to carry on if I’m honest, but the military gives you perspective very quickly.

Within a couple of days of waking up, I found out that two of my colleagues had been killed. That was a massive switch in my life, all of a sudden I realised I was a survivor to a victim.

After about twelve months of bouncing around, I was kind of getting stuck and I didn’t know what to do next. But I was contacted to maybe speak to what was then St Dunstan's, and now Blind Veterans UK. And they said you know Can we help, is there anything we can do to support?

I think the biggest thing for me was that realisation of actually I was lucky, I got away with something. My biggest fear, my biggest concern laying in a hospital bed all those years ago was I going to be somebody who basically.

Who basically spent the rest of their life cooped up in their parents’ spare room, cause I was too frightened to move forward. And thanks to the support of organisations like Blind Veterans UK I’ve been able to find that confidence.

Move forward and find that achievement I’ve always been looking for. When I was broken there were organisations, there were people out there to help.

And because of the generosity, the respect, and the kindness of the British public. This organisations have helped so many others including myself and will go to to help many many more. I’m incredibly grateful for the help I’ve had and if you’d like to support more veterans like me Please play the Veterans’ Lottery. Thank you.

Veterans’ Foundation review

Veterans’ Foundation does not just support the work of Blind Veterans UK. To date, we have given £2million to 140 different military charities. A selection of the charities we have helped include:

  • Royal British Legion Industries (RBLI) serves our veterans by helping them build skills and gain employment. They help veterans get ready for life outside of the Armed Forces. RBLI operates Britain's Bravest Manufacturing Company that gives veterans the opportunity to use their skills for work in the UK manufacturing industry. Veterans' Foundation is proud to support the great work this charity does.
  • FirstLight Trust is another military charity that has been supported by Veterans' Foundation. FirstLight Trust offers veterans practical help in applying for housing, work, benefits alongside giving them safe places to enjoy the company with other veterans with both different and similar experiences on civvy street.
  • Veterans in Action helps veterans in Scotland rebuild lives once they leave the Armed Forces. Veterans' Foundation is proud to support this vital work. Veterans in Action's founder Billy MacLeod thanked Veterans' Foundation for the grant they received: “The support from the Veterans’ Foundation for this project has been outstanding and we can’t thank them enough.” 

Thank you for your support, without your help playing the lottery, leaving a little in your will or donating to Veterans’ Foundation more veterans would be suffering. There are thousands more who need help, share this to spread our message far and wide. 


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