Help for Heroes buildings spend criticised
09 August 2012
Military charity Help for Heroes has been criticised for spending millions of pounds building and upgrading recovery centres while some injured veterans go without physiotherapy or prosthetic limbs.
The charity has been praised by the Charity Commission for attracting funding for military causes which would not otherwise have been donated, but now a joint report by the BBC and Bureau of Investigative Journalism has found that some soldiers are having to fund their own recovery.
Charity patron Ben McBean, who lost a leg and an arm in an explosion in Afghanistan in 2008, said that officers, rather than the injured soldiers, had been deciding how to spend the charity's donations.
"Rather than £100m being spent on limbs for every single guy who has been injured – and the future – instead the MoD somehow managed to get all these Gucci buildings out of it," said McBean. "The MoD must just be like 'happy days'.
"I've defended Help for Heroes for years now and now it's got to the stage where I'm getting a bit fed up and I'll quite happily say something.
"What's going wrong is they are asking the MoD – they are asking the officers – and not the guys that need the help. The officers are not the ones that are injured – the guys who have never been to war aren't the ones who know anything about war or about injuries and how and what they need to get better."
Harris Tatakis, a former corporal in the Royal Marines, said he had been refused entry into a local recovery centre in Plymouth despite being discharged just over a year ago after suffering multiple injuries in an IED blast. Tatakis funded his own physiotherapy for a year but ran out of money to do so.
"I'm on the doorstep of the recovery centre and it's a shut door," said Tatakis. "Once you're discharged, they're not there for you anymore they're there for the next injured serviceman coming in."
"I gave 13 years of my life to serving and I just feel like the moment you're injured that's it you're seen as a burden."
Help for Heroes founder Bryn Parry said that the centres were "desperately" needed and that they would not have been built without the charity's funding.
He also said that the prosthetic limbs provided by the MoD were "top class".
"Every single serviceman who needs a prosthetic limb is getting it through the MoD and we're not in the business of providing prosthetic limbs," he said.
In a statement, the Ministry of Defence said: "Those who put their lives on the line and make sacrifices for this country deserve all the financial support and medical care we can give them."
Some £226m is to be spent over the next 10 years on assisting recovery for injured personnel, the statement said.
"The MoD and the Department of Health have been working closely on enhancing the transition arrangements to ensure a seamless handover of medical and social care provision for those who require it," the statement said.
"This includes ensuring that veterans have the same levels of access to prosthetic limbs and specialist care from the NHS as they did at Headley Court.
"Our Personnel Recovery Centres remain open to wounded, injured and sick veterans. Working with our charity partners we assess each case individually and prioritise individuals that would benefit most from the centres."