New national initiative to link veterans with sight loss to support

Press Release | 08/08/2019

Scottish War Blinded’s Linburn Centre in Wilkieston hosted a visit from Scotland’s Veterans Minister Graeme Dey and local MSP Angela Constance as Ministers announced a new initiative to ensure blind and partially sighted veterans are linked with support as soon as possible.

We are welcoming the announcement by the Scottish Government that during the process for applying for a Certificate of Vision Impairment, people will now be asked if they have ever served in the Armed Forces. 

The Minister, MSP and Rebecca Barr chatting to a Scottish War Blinded member

New guidance is being prepared so that practitioners responsible for registering people for a Certificate of Vision Impairment will be asked to signpost veterans to the free services and support provided by Scottish War Blinded. The confirmation of the new approach comes after Angela Constance raised the issue in the Scottish Parliament.

Scottish War Blinded provides individually tailored support for ex-servicemen and women who have sight loss, aiming to restore independence through specialist information, advice and equipment. The charity offers free support to any veteran living with sight loss that impacts on their independence, whether they lost their sight during service or subsequently through conditions such as glaucoma or macular degeneration. The Linburn Centre celebrated its 75th anniversary last year.

The Minister and MSP received a guided tour of the centre, including the art room, IT room and skills kitchen. The pair also observed veterans' woodworking skills and were shown specialist equipment provision in the rehabilitation room, before having a go at acoustic shooting. 

Veterans Minister Graeme Dey said: “The Scottish Government is committed to supporting our Armed Forces, veterans and their families in Scotland. Practitioners will now be able to highlight the new signposting in the patient guidance that accompanies the CVI process to Scottish War Blinded. The organisation’s continued commitment to helping veterans live independently, as well as offering training, social and recreation opportunities is highly valued by both the Armed Forces community and the Scottish Government. This signposting will help veterans access the additional support they may need and will ensure they are not disadvantaged by their service or the circumstances they find themselves in because of this.”

Angela Constance MSP said: “In West Lothian we are very proud of the Scottish War Blinded and the excellent work they do to support Veterans and it’s good to once again welcome the Veterans Minister to the Linburn Centre in Wilkieston. I am delighted with the Minister’s response to my parliamentary question and that there is now a clear commitment and process that identifies and refers veterans to the Scottish War Centre services when they register their visual impairment. This is a big step forward in ensuring that our veterans receive the right support at the right time. The range of support and supply of specialists equipment available at the Scottish War Blinded is second to none.”

Mark O’Donnell, Chief Executive of Royal Blind and Scottish War Blinded, said: “We are delighted that Ministers have responded so positively to our proposal for people applying for a Certificate of Vision Impairment to be asked if they are veterans and if so, to be signposted to the services we provide. Support from our charity can be life changing for veterans with sight loss. We do all we can to encourage referrals to our services, but we still find a number of veterans are not being made aware of our support as quickly as they could be. This initiative will help ensure more veterans can benefit more quickly from our support in the future.”