- Be relevant to every limbless veteran and their family
- Be a strong advocate on behalf of Members
- Ensure Members’ needs are met
- Draw on our history and heritage to build a successful future for our Members
- Be supported and cherished by Members
- Retain its position as the expert service charity on living with limb loss
Forty thousand Service men lost limbs or eyes during the First World War – and lived to return to a “land fit for heroes”. They were swiftly disillusioned. Amputation techniques were in their infancy, artificial limbs primitive and, with mass unemployment the order of the day, 90% of the nation’s war limbless could not find work.
However, the comradeship of the trenches lived on. The crutch, the walking stick, the empty sleeve, served as an introduction to friends who had who had met with similar misfortunes. During this period the limbless gathered together in groups determined if society would not help them, they would help themselves. So the Limbless Ex-Service Men’s Association was born and grew, finally achieving national status in 1932 as the British Limbless Ex-Service Men’s Association – Blesma.
Since it’s creation Blesma has lobbied successive governments to achieve improvements in pensions, in standards of artificial limbs and in the provision of suitable motor transport and employment opportunities. Residential homes have been opened, wide ranging health and well-being services initiated, sporting activities undertaken and innovative research commissioned, all helped by the ceaseless fund-raising activities of devoted members and supporters.
Today, Blesma, The Limbless Veterans is one of only ten charities that still exist from the 18,000 that were born out of the First World War. Since 1932, we have been the only national service charity that supports limbless veterans for the duration of their lives. Modern medicine transforms the physical injury, but it is a complicated process to treat the emotional trauma and related lifelong health problems.
The Association has a legacy of campaigning for improved rights for military personnel – often represented by the Chief Executive.
Our Blesma Support Officers (BSOs) represent the interests of the individual Members they support. They will ensure local statutory services are delivered. They will deal with local authorities on behalf of Members. They will help a Member get the best out of prosthetic limb services – they will sort out benefits and pensions.
Our Headquarters team will represent the collective interests of the Membership at large. We have a long and proud track record in seeking and achieving improvements in the War Pension, in the Armed Forces Compensation Scheme, in improvements in prosthetic services so that our Members are able to be as mobile as possible – thus able to lead independent and fulfilling lives. Representation has always been a vital part of Blesma’s work.
Representation on boards include:
- The Central Advisory Committee for Service Pensions and Compensation (CAC)
- The COBSEO Executive Committee – The Confederation of Service Charities
- The Independent Medical Expert Group (as a lay member),
- The Executive Committee of Veterans Scotland
- Motability – Board of Governors
- The Associated Parliamentary Limb Loss Group
- The British Members Council of the World Veterans Federation
In broader context we play a role and consult widely with:
- Veterans Advisory and Pension Committees nationwide
- The Association retains a close relationship with the Service Personnel and Veterans Agency (SPVA)
- NHS Armed Forces Networks and NHS regional bodies
- Prosthetic Providers
Blesma is a membership association and the Members sit at the core of what we do.
We exist to promote the welfare and wellbeing of all those serving and Ex-Service Men and Women who suffer loss of a limb, permanent loss of speech, hearing; or the loss of sight in one or both eyes; or the use of a limb.
We believe that only an amputee can understand the needs of another. And that is the reason Blesma Members rely heavily on each other for support, counselling and, for the “fellowship of shared experiences”.
While the majority of our Members are Ex-Service Men and Women, there are a number who are still serving. We also accept responsibility for the dependants of our Members and in particular their Widows. We are governed by our Memorandum and Articles of Association adopted on 1 January 2001.
As well as activities, the benefits of membership include support in areas such as counselling, welfare and prosthetics. For more information about what Blesma offers its Members, go to our ‘Member Services’ section.
The Blesma activities calendar defines the actions and values of shared experiences through challenging and dynamic activities. These programmes are funded by the invaluable goodwill of the public from across our wide supporter base which spreads across the military community and beyond. These activities could be sailing across the Atlantic, skiing in Solden, skydiving in Netheravon or perhaps a peaceful day’s fishing or photography.
The activities programme forms a significant part of a Member’s social life whilst being vital to their recovery process.
It has been one of the mainstays of the Membership service for many years, allowing wounded Serving and Ex-Service personnel experience activities they would normally never encounter.
Welfare support including the provision of a professional welfare service which can help with matters regarding pensions, allowances, NHS prosthetic provision, and making grants to alleviate disability need.
Accommodation and Care for Members
Blesma’s home at Blackpool provides residential care for our most disabled and infirm Members and convalescence and respite opportunities for all Members and Widows. For more information on our home in Blackpool, click here.
Blesma has a long history of campaigning. Whilst we will work with the government of the day, we are not afraid to be confrontational should the need arise. There may no longer be columns of War Pensioner amputees marching on Downing Street but that does not mean that our voice is not heard when it matters. We work closely with other military and civilian charities when appropriate since we recognise that together we are stronger.
- War Pensions
- Armed Forces Compensation Scheme (AFCS)
- Provision of Artificial Limbs
- Welfare Reform