The comments came during the launch of the second Veteran Games and Conference, which first took place in 2019 and has since been delayed due to Covid. The second games will take place on 29 May and again will feature a simultaneous conference bringing together British and Israeli experts on veteran mental health.
Last time, the charity Beit Halochem (UK arm) took 60 injured Brits to Israel to take part in a four days of sporting competition with Israelis who had also lost limbs or suffered post-traumatic stress as a result of conflict. Joined by their spouses and children, they also had an opportunity to spend quality time together at the Dead Sea, build friendships that have lasted until today and tour sites including the Western Wall and Yad Vashem.
At the launch of the Games, one participant, Caroline Beazley, said had literally changed her life after being invited to take part by The Not Forgotten charity. Having previously felt like she had “lost my whole self”, she said the initiative “gave me back my pride. Pride to not only wear a uniform again but pride in my country, pride to be part of an amazing group of athletes from the UK and Israel. I was part of a team that needed me s much as I needed them”.
We were thrilled to launch @BHalochem 2022 #Veterans Games at the Ambassador's residence.
During the event, accompanied by Minister @LeoDochertyUK of @VeteransGovUK, we heard some inspiring stories from previous competitors and disscussed future cooperation. pic.twitter.com/fBLumrMU06
— Israel in the UK 🇮🇱🤝🇬🇧 (@IsraelinUK) November 26, 2021
Beazley, who was shot four times while serving with the Royal Military Police in Northern Ireland, said the group was treated in Israel like “kings and queens” and all the sacrifices and suffering they’d experienced was “not only acknowledged but respected and appreciated. Something that I had never experienced before.
“I have taken what happened to me and turned it into a positively not only helping other veterans but also civilians by sharing my story and hopefully inspiring others to challenge and believe in themselves. I know in my heart this would not have been possible without the friendship and support I received on that trip”.
Another participant attending the launch, held at the UK ambassador’s residence, spoke of the impact the experience in Israel had upon him, after suffering with his mental health and turning to heavy drinking following his service in the Royal Marines.
He told the gathering that the Games enabled him to feel the glow of success again – having won gold in cross-fit – and to allow “love back into my heart”.
Veterans minister Leo Docherty MP expressed his “admiration” of of Beit Halochem and said the event illustrates “the amazing warm relationship between our countries” including in defence and security cooperation. “We have huge admiration for your armed forces and the way you seek to honour your veterans”.
Docherty said “we admire and are a little bit envious” of Israel’s tech and cyber innovation. In a light-hearted reference to the prime minister’s much-publicised speech the day before, he said: “We’re proud of the excellent trading relationship. We export everything from Brompton bicycles to Peppa Pig to Israel.”