While most of us were giving thanks last week before our Thanksgiving dinners for the sacrifices our brave men and women in uniform have made in the line of duty, a row was developing in Surrey (UK) after injured British servicemen were forced out of a therapeutic swimming session at Leatherhead Leisure Centre in the Headley Court area due to angry, arrogant protests by club members protesting the swim lane closures:
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.”
The article notes that this isn’t the first time that neighbors in the area have come out against measures designed to aid and assist wounded war veterans and their families. Sounds like a minority of people in the area felt this way, but it was a vocal minority. I found the article on that here (emphasis added):
Campaigners for a home-from-home for families visiting injured servicemen were celebrating last night after the plans were approved.
The Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Families Association, the Armed Forces charity, intends to invest Â£1.7 million in a house for relatives of the growing number of servicemen maimed in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Families will be able to stay there when they visit Headley Court rehabilitation centre in Surrey.
The plans brought protests from those living near the seven-bedroom house in upmarket Grays Lane, Ashtead.
Residents complained it would lower the value of their homes, increase traffic noise and ruin the tranquil area’s “community spirit”.
“Ruin” the community spirit? I would think showering the families of military veterans with support would be a great example of “community spirit” but then again, that would probably only happen in a neighborhood where people actually supported the troops in actuality rather than in theory only. Here were some of the other absurd complaints from nearby residents.
In the end, the veterans won out:
The Daily Telegraph led calls for the house to be built while more than 43,712 people signed an online petition in favour of the plans.
Last night, the local planning committee heeded the very public call and granted the application by 17 votes to zero after the head of the council and the committee chair urged members to be brave and vote for the public good.
SSAFA, a charity to which readers of The Daily Telegraph donated Â£400,000 in a Christmas appeal, now aims to open the house to families as soon as possible. Once open, it can house up to six families at a time, who will be emotionally as well as practically supported by an SSAFA manager.
It’s a shame that these men and women who fought bravely in Iraq and Afghanistan end up having to come home and fight in another way in other battles against spoiled brats who are, let’s face it, obviously anti-war and anti-military. When I read about this story I was reminded once again about how the far left in our own country routinely tries to claim that they “support the troops but not the war” and how they, too, have a weird way of showing it.
PM Update: ST reader “Bentley” sends along information about the Headley parish and district wards election results from earlier this year, which shows about a 60-40 slant towards conservatives. This explains, in part, why the complaints from the vocal anti-war minority residents I mentioned earlier, thankfully, didn’t go anywhere.