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Disabled veterans jeered at swimming pool

COBRA-6

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Disabled veterans jeered at swimming pool
By Thomas Harding, Lucy Cockcroft and Brendan Carlin
Last Updated: 1:47am GMT 25/11/2007

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml?xml=/news/2007/11/22/narmy322.xml

Injured soldiers who lost their limbs fighting for their country have been driven from a swimming pool training session by jeering members of the public.

The men, injured during tours in Iraq and Afghanistan, were taking part in a rehabilitation session at a leisure centre, when two women demanded they be removed from the pool. They claimed that the soldiers "hadn't paid" and might scare the children.

The incident has sparked widespread condemnation. Adml Lord Boyce, a former head of the Armed Forces, said last night the women should be "named and shamed".

"These people are beneath contempt and everything should be done to get their names and publish them in the press," he said. "It is contemptible that people who have given up their limbs for their country should be so abused when they are trying to get fit again."

It comes after calls for the public to do more to welcome home troops back from tours of duty and to recognise the bravery of those fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The unpleasant scenes broke out at Leatherhead Leisure Centre in Surrey when the wounded veterans, who are at Headley Court Military Hospital, had to use the 25-metre public pool because the hydro-pool at the defence rehabilitation centre is not big enough for swimming.

The servicemen were about to begin their weekly swimming therapy in closed-off lanes when they were verbally abused by the swimmers.

One woman in her 30s was said to be infuriated by the lane closures saying the soldiers did not deserve to be there when she had paid.

It was also reported that others complained that limbless servicemen were scaring children at the centre.

The atmosphere was said to be so tense that the soldiers' instructors removed them.

Charles Murrin, 79, a Navy veteran who saw the incident, said: "The woman said the men do not deserve to be in there and that she pays to come in the pool and they don't. I spoke to the instructor in the changing room afterwards and he was livid."

It is not the first time that Headley Court neighbours have been accused of poor behaviour.

There was uproar earlier this year after residents objected to planning permission to convert a home into a six-suite hostel for injured soldiers' families to stay in. The local council later approved the building work.

A Ministry of Defence spokesman said: "We are disappointed that a small number of people objected to the closure of swimming lanes so that patients of Headley Court could use them."

The incident comes weeks after the Help For Heroes appeal was launched to raise £5 million to build a full-size pool and gym at the centre.

Labour will today aim to repair its battered reputation with the Armed Forces by offering all military veterans priority NHS treatment, The Daily Telegraph has learned.

The concession, ordered by the Health Secretary, Alan Johnson, will be available to the estimated 4.8 million ex-servicemen and women, sources said last night.

Unbelievable!  :mad:
 

ixium

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The kids were scared? Come on, anyone thats been around younger kids knows most of the time they'll ask questions.
 

simysmom99

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I can tell you that it probably took a lot of courage for those injured soldiers to even want to get in a bathing suit in public.  Then to have these heartless people yell at them?  Way to set these soldiers back!
 

cavalryman

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I'd be curious to see what ethnic community the complainers belong too, considering the other anti-veteran incidents that have occurred in the UK since the GWOT started.
 

X-mo-1979

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They claimed that the soldiers "hadn't paid" and might scare the children.


I guess losing limbs for ones country doesnt count as payment enough to some.
 

medaid

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X-mo-1979 said:
They claimed that the soldiers "hadn't paid" and might scare the children.

Unfracking believable! These people should be... ugh never mind. Agreed on the fact that these people should be called out and shamed. They are the type of people who raise more hippy children...
 

Blackadder1916

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cavalryman said:
I'd be curious to see what ethnic community the complainers belong too, considering the other anti-veteran incidents that have occurred in the UK since the GWOT started.

The incident occurred at the Leatherhead Leisure Centre which is in Surrey (not in a particularly urban area or an area known for ethnic enclaves) and is near RAF Headley Court.  The Leisure Center is owned and operated by the Mole Valley District Council.  The following is a statement from that council.
Press Statement 22nd November 2007
Mole Valley District Council, Pippbrook, Dorking RH4 1SJ
STATEMENT FROM COUNCILLOR TIM HALL LEADER OF THE COUNCIL

Mole Valley District Council has an excellent relationship with Headley Court, who have been using the Leisure Centre for more than 20 years. The Council guarantees that Headley Court will have use of at least one lane of the swimming pool during their weekly sessions. But the number of lanes allocated depends upon the number of attendees both from Headley Court and the general public. At all times appropriate space is available for public use.

There appears to have been a rare incident where two members of the public queried the provision of lanes of the swimming pool for Headley Court. This was an isolated incident, where some insensitive comments were made by these members of the public, directed at some of our customers from Headley Court.

I have today (Thursday 22nd November 2007), spoken to Wing Commander Steve Beaumont of Headley Court and we both agree that this sort of insensitivity by a few people cannot stop us from working closely together in future. As we live in a democracy which encourages freedom of speech, we cannot legislate against what particular individuals say. Whilst the Council does not condone what happened, staff at the Leisure Centre did their best to accommodate all concerned and acted professionally in dealing with the situation.

The Council has had a strong relationship with Headley Court for more than 20 years and is dedicated to supporting their continued use of the Leisure Centre. In fact we will be considering the following proposal at the Council meeting on 27 November:

That this Council offers free use of the soft play area and swimming pool during the public open sessions at the Leatherhead Leisure Centre and free access to the cinema at Dorking Halls to:

(1) the families of injured service men and women undergoing rehabilitation at Headley Court during their visits to loved ones
(2) to the injured service men and women resident at Headley court who accompany their family on these visits
(3) to the children and young people in care and their carer families who reside in Mole Valley.

ENDS

The reference to ethnicity (as there is none in the original story) adds nothing to the discussion other than to give an poor impression of members here to casual readers of this forum.

But while it may not be the most scientific of methods to determine ethnicity (particularly of the individuals involved),  none of the pictures on the websites seem to include any who could be described as ethnic minorities (predominantly white) and the political partisan composition of the district council is predominantly Conservative & Liberal Democrat (they last elected a single Labour member in 2003);  therefore it is possible that most of the residents of the area and users of the leisure centre identify themselves as typical suburban, middle class Englishmen and women.   If you want to label the perpertrators of this insult call them "insensitive idiots".  There are plenty around.
 

Trooper Hale

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Thats really quite disturbing. That people could be so shallow and self absorbed to complain about any kind of people with any kind of disabilities using "their" pool is a sad indictment on the community and the society that spawns them. What makes it all the more shocking is that the women are complaining about soldiers who've lost limbs in the service of their country. Thats pure selfish ignorance. They deserve to be named and shamed.

As someone has already said, its a big thing that those men have got in their togs and got in the pool. They dont need to be humiliated even further by someone who seems to think the world revolves around their tiny life.
I'm genuinely shocked someone could do what they've done.
 

Roy Harding

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Does anybody here remember the 60s and early 70s?

May I mention Vietnam - and the shameful way those warriors were "welcomed" home?

I wasn't one of them - but I took my cue from them;  I never expected to be respected, and up 'till the '02 mission, I wasn't wrong.
 

Trooper Hale

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Aye, and its the same here. Vietnam vets werent the most popular people running around when they got back. But i thought it'd changed. I thought people had realised that that isnt the way to treat soldiers. Vietnam Vets in Australia are passionate about protecting soldiers from being maligned and slighted in the way they were. They stand up for the current diggers like no one else and their campaign has mostly been successful. People now take their issue with the governments if they dont agree and understand that soldiers are just doing their job.
These women need to look outside their tiny little lives and look at what American and Australian servicemen and women went through when they got home. And they need to make sure that Britain doesnt repeat the mistakes made here and in the US 30 years ago.
 

Roy Harding

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Hale said:
Aye, and its the same here. Vietnam vets werent the most popular people running around when they got back. But i thought it'd changed. I thought people had realised that that isnt the way to treat soldiers. Vietnam Vets in Australia are passionate about protecting soldiers from being maligned and slighted in the way they were. They stand up for the current diggers like no one else and their campaign has mostly been successful. People now take their issue with the governments if they dont agree and understand that soldiers are just doing their job.
These women need to look outside their tiny little lives and look at what American and Australian servicemen and women went through when they got home. And they need to make sure that Britain doesnt repeat the mistakes made here and in the US 30 years ago.

+10 million
 

Roy Harding

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Hale said:
Aw shucks  :-[.
Thanks Roy

No thanks for me required. 

Thanks are owed to those Vietnam Vets who did the deed, and then were ignored (or worse - despised) by their home countries.

Their generation were my instructors - and they did a good job of it. 

Thanks, y'all.
 

Trooper Hale

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Now its my turn, +10million.
Its my theory that Vietnam Vets didn't just change Vietnam, they changed the whole Western world. Their acts, their dignity and their example have made our countries what they are today.
Like i said though, Britain needs to make sure that history is not repeated and they don't ostracise a generation of soldiers.
 

Roy Harding

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Hale said:
Now its my turn, +10million.
Its my theory that Vietnam Vets didn't just change Vietnam, they changed the whole Western world. Their acts, their dignity and their example have made our countries what they are today.
Like i said though, Britain needs to make sure that history is not repeated and they don't ostracise a generation of soldiers.

Britain is not the only country that needs to shake their head.  I'm not sanguine regarding how "average" Canadians view their returning vets - I see trouble ahead.

I have the doubtful honour of being one of Canada's "new" vets - I have to admit that I'm not comfortable in that particular role - "Vets" are old guys, aren't they?  I'm not that old. 

I'm not sure that the average Canadian understands exactly what we're doing over there - nor am I sure that they are ready for the returning vets.  On the other hand - I'm sure that the returning vets are quite capable of cutting through whatever BS may be put in their path, and carrying on with their lives.

I DO know that anybody who treats our vets the way the British vets were depicted in the original article on this thread will receive a throat punch from me - and I'll stand proud before the judge if it comes to that.
 

Greymatters

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'Might scare the children..."  ::)

There's a whole lot of things out there a lot scarier than someone missing a limb, regardless of whether it was lost through service or by accident...  sounds like a bunch of gossiping cows with too much time on their hands.
 

Petard

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X-mo-1979 said:
They claimed that the soldiers "hadn't paid" and might scare the children.


I guess losing limbs for ones country doesnt count as payment enough to some.

+1 (many times over)
 

tomahawk6

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I may be off base but I think the Brits problems are caused by MOD's decision to let NHS handle the needs of wounded soldiers instead of maintaining at least one military hospital.
 
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