Israel this week hosted the first Veteran Games, welcoming more than 60 disabled UK veterans who competed with disabled Israeli veterans in a series of sports competitions.
A three day conference was held, in parallel to the games, to examine innovation in medical treatment and support, particularly in the field of post-traumatic stress disorder. The conference was chaired by Professor Zahava Solomon of Tel Aviv University and Sir Simon Wessely, professor of psychological medicine at the Institute of Psychiatry, King’s College London and an adviser to the British Army.
The UK and Israeli veterans and their families met President Reuven Rivlin yesterday. Rivlin said at the meeting: “My dear friends, looking around this room, I see true heroes who answered their country’s call and went to war to preserve our values and protect us all. I salute you! I am proud to see our own IDF soldiers here today who also bear the scars of battle and who took part in the games.”
Foreign Office Minister Andrew Murrison MP attended the games on his first official visit to Israel and the Palestinian Authority. He met with Israeli Regional Cooperation Minister Tzachi Hanegbi MK, Yair Lapid MK, Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh and UN Middle East envoy Nikolay Mladenov.
Warrant Officer Matt Tomlinson MC, Royal Marines, the representative of the veterans said: “Mr President, it gives me great pleasure and a huge sense of honour to thank you personally on behalf of the brave warriors of Her Majesty’s armed forces and their families. The Veterans’ Games are a rare opportunity to visit your wonderful country and at the same time challenge, compete and find common ground with Israeli veterans.”
In BICOM’s podcast this week, Richard Pater interviewed Royal Marines veteran Andrew Garland, one of the organisers of the Veteran Games.