A national rehabilitation centre for Britain’s injured military is more important than ever, especially as the number of armed forces personnel continues to fall, a veteran has said.
Based at Stanford Hall, near Loughborough, the new multimillion-pound Defence National Rehabilitation Centre (DNRC) aims to be one of the best in the world.
The state-of-the-art facility will provide neurological and complex trauma care and a full suite of rehabilitative facilities on one site when it opens its doors later this year.
DNRC ambassador, former Captain Ibi Ali – who served in the Yorkshire Regiment, was speaking as a national poetry competition to mark the centre’s creation was launched by the Duke of Cambridge.
Quizzed on how important the facility will be and whether it is still relevant, Mr Ali told the Press Association that it is “more important than ever”.
“There isn’t the focus we did have whilst operations were taking place, and sadly we were taking large numbers of casualties in Iraq and Afghanistan,” he told the Press Association.
“Actually the armed forces are growing ever smaller, be that for whatever reason, so actually the value of every soldier getting back to work is greater than ever.
“When we have got an ever diminishing resource, every individual becomes far, far more valuable to get back to their teams and platoons and be there doing their job.”
He stressed how soldiers cannot be “just plucked from thin air”, requiring years of training and are “valuable key assets that the military needs”.
Official figures show the size of the regular Army has plummeted from 159,100 in 1980 to 83,561 in 2017 – dropping again from the year to October 2017 to 82,207.
Mr Ali, who is originally from Rotherham, was deployed in Iraq in 2007 when he was caught in a blast from a roadside bomb and lost his dominant right arm.
Undergoing rehabilitation at Headley Court, which the DNRC will replace, despite his injuries he returned to active service and completed further operational tours of Iraq and Afghanistan.
Awarded the military cross in 2007, he credits the expert clinical rehabilitation he received as allowing him to rebuild his life.
The 40-year-old who has fundraised for the new facility by completing the World Marathon Challenge, said he thinks the national A Poem to Remember competition, launched on Friday, is a “great idea”.
With the winning entry set to become a feature at the new centre, he said he would like to see “some hope” within it.
“If it is going to be put onto a wall as a permanent reminder, it has got to be something that provides hope to everyone that either visits or needs treatment,” he added.
For more information on how to enter visit www.poemtoremember.co.uk
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