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Tony Blair donating memoir money to wounded vets

By the CNN Wire Staff
  • Former British PM Tony Blair has pledged the proceeds of his forthcoming book
  • The money will go to the Royal British Legion's Battle Back Challenge Centre
  • The Centre will provide accommodations and rehabilitation facilities for wounded veterans
  • The Centre is scheduled to open in the summer of 2012

London, England (CNN) -- Wounded veterans in Great Britain soon will be getting some financial support from their former prime minister, the Royal British Legion and Tony Blair announced Monday on both of their websites.

Blair will be donating all the proceeds from his forthcoming memoir, "A Journey," to the Battle Back Challenge Centre, said the Legion, which is funding the state-of-the-art rehabilitation center for seriously-injured service personnel, due to open in the summer of 2012.

"The Legion is delighted to accept this very generous donation, which gives an excellent start to our fundraising target of 12m (approximately $19 million) for the Battle Back Challenge Centre and a total of 25m (approximately $39 million) as our contribution to the provision of the world class service for injured personnel for the next ten years," Chris Simpkins, director general of The Royal British Legion, said.

"The culture of the Centre will very much be about what users of the service can do, rather than what they can't, but some of the servicemen and women are likely to need the Legion's support for the rest of their lives. Mr. Blair's generosity is much appreciated and will help us to make a real and lasting difference to the lives of hundreds of injured personnel," Simpkins said.

The Legion says the Battle Back Challenge Centre will be a major part of the British Ministry of Defence's Personnel Recovery Centre (PRC) program, which was announced earlier this year. It aims to help seriously injured personnel, using sport and outdoor activities to help physical rehabilitation and confidence building


The Legion says it expects that most injured personnel who are able to return to active duty will go through the Battle Back Centre as part of their recovery. The Centre, which will be open to personnel across the British armed forces, will provide accommodations and a state-of-the-art gym and training facility.

On Blair's website, a spokesman said, "Tony Blair decided on leaving office that he would donate the proceeds of his memoirs to a charity for the Armed Forces as a way of marking the enormous sacrifice they make for the security of our people and the world. The Royal British Legion is just such a cause. In making this decision, Tony Blair recognizes the courage and sacrifice the Armed Forces demonstrate day in, day out. As prime minister he witnessed that for himself in Iraq, Afghanistan, Northern Ireland, Sierra Leone and Kosovo. This is his way of honouring that courage and sacrifice."

"We have been consulting with a number of people and organizations to decide the best support he can give. There is one project consistently highlighted: The Royal British Legion's Battle Back Challenge Centre," the spokesman said.

"As Tony Blair said to the House of Commons on his last day in office, 'I believe that they [the Armed Forces] are fighting for the security of this country and the wider world against people who would destroy our way of life. But whatever view people take of my decisions, I think that there is only one view to take of them: they are the bravest and the best,'" he concluded.