Veteran fears he may miss out on wheelchair basketball opportunity in Texas because of Passport backlog

Veteran fears he may miss out on wheelchair basketball opportunity in Texas because of Passport backlog

PASSPORT FEARS: Former soldier Gaz Golightly and his wife Denise are pictured with their daughters Brianna (l) and Clarissa in their home in Hartlepool.

PASSPORT FEARS: Former soldier Gaz Golightly in his home in Hartlepool.

INVICTUS HOPES: Former soldier Gaz Golightly and his wife Denise are pictured with their daughters Brianna (l) and Clarissa in their home in Hartlepool.

BASKETBALL TALENT: Former soldier Gaz Golightly in his home in Hartlepool.

First published in News

A DELAYED passport could deny a wounded veteran the chance of a lifetime to jet off to the US and train with a wheelchair basketball team – and because he has never owned a passport it could take even longer to process.

Gaz Golightly, 32, was just last week given the opportunity to go to Texas on July 4 to take part in training and competitions with an American wheelchair basketball team – something that could help in his goal to be selected to be part of the Invictus Games in London this September.

Invictus Games is a Paralympic-style international event for wounded and injured soldiers and veterans.

But advice from the Passport Office is that it can take more than six weeks for a first-time passport, and applicants must also attend an interview and bring documentation to prove they are a British citizen.

But he only has until Monday to confirm his place on the trip with his passport details.

Mr Golightly, who lives in Hartlepool with wife Denise and daughters Brianna, two, and Clarissa, four, lost a leg in 2002 when he was driving back to his barracks in Surrey and was forced to swerve to avoid a car that cut in front of him.

His car rolled along a fence and the posts pierced the bottom of his car, his right leg and shattered his pelvis.

He managed to lift himself off the wooden post he was impaled on and crawl out of the car before it exploded.

His right leg had to be amputated above the knee and he lost the use of his lower left leg because of nerve damage.

He said: “I started getting support from Help for Heroes recovery centre Phoenix House in Catterick Garrison after I discovered wheelchair basketball.

“The centre has really helped me get back on track and helped fund my wheelchair.

“It is really frustrating that I could miss out on going to Texas because of the passport – I was never actually deployed when I was a soldier so I have just never got round to applying for one, and this opportunity came up so suddenly I haven’t had time to prepare.”

Mrs Golightly, who is expecting the couple's third child next week, said: “I have seen how wheelchair basketball and staff at Phoenix House have brought Gaz out of himself so it will be devastating if he is not able to go.”

The couple have made a plea to Durham Passport Office for his case can be fast-tracked.

To donate to the Northern Echo's £100,000 appeal for a performing arts centre at Phoenix House visit www.thenorthernecho.co.uk/news/campaigns/helpforheroes/donate.

Comments (6)

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2:53pm Sat 14 Jun 14

cookiemonster14 says...

how can he be a war veteran if he's never had a passport? he's obviously never been abroad or actually served for our country?
how can he be a war veteran if he's never had a passport? he's obviously never been abroad or actually served for our country? cookiemonster14
  • Score: -3

9:34pm Sat 14 Jun 14

pebbles2632 says...

It doesn't state he is a "war veteran" he was on duty when his accident occurred and his career was cut short before he managed to get deployed.
He signed up to serve his county and it was not his fault he couldn't go to "war".
It doesn't state he is a "war veteran" he was on duty when his accident occurred and his career was cut short before he managed to get deployed. He signed up to serve his county and it was not his fault he couldn't go to "war". pebbles2632
  • Score: 1

8:51pm Sun 15 Jun 14

cookiemonster14 says...

hmmm he probably didnt even finish his basic training.. never mind i just think its a shame there are so many men and women out their who have actually fought for our country with no recognition and yet the term veteran is thrown around so loosely
hmmm he probably didnt even finish his basic training.. never mind i just think its a shame there are so many men and women out their who have actually fought for our country with no recognition and yet the term veteran is thrown around so loosely cookiemonster14
  • Score: 1

2:25pm Mon 16 Jun 14

BritishSoldier says...

veteran
ˈvɛt(ə)r(ə)n/
noun
noun: veteran; plural noun: veterans

- a person who has had long experience in a particular field.
- an ex-member of the armed forces.
veteran ˈvɛt(ə)r(ə)n/ noun noun: veteran; plural noun: veterans - a person who has had long experience in a particular field. - an ex-member of the armed forces. BritishSoldier
  • Score: 0

10:57pm Mon 16 Jun 14

pebbles2632 says...

Well you have your own opinion and that's your right, he must of been on duty to be a war veteran, or a veteran if you can no longer serve your county through injury. There are lots of men and women who have "actually fought for our country" (quote) who have gone on leave or on duty at their barracks and had an accident and are veterans. If you are injured whilst on duty you are then medically discharged and are a veteran. Also back in 2002 there was not alot of conflict like the recent years, so just because he didn't manage to get deployed does not mean he was in basic training.
Well you have your own opinion and that's your right, he must of been on duty to be a war veteran, or a veteran if you can no longer serve your county through injury. There are lots of men and women who have "actually fought for our country" (quote) who have gone on leave or on duty at their barracks and had an accident and are veterans. If you are injured whilst on duty you are then medically discharged and are a veteran. Also back in 2002 there was not alot of conflict like the recent years, so just because he didn't manage to get deployed does not mean he was in basic training. pebbles2632
  • Score: 1

5:19pm Tue 17 Jun 14

cookiemonster14 says...

agree with that pebbles about men and women who have had accidents whilst on leave who have fought for our country to be called veterans as they have at least been abroad which was my actual point in the 1st point. i just cant see how stuff like this makes the news when its basically a bloke who had an accident lost his leg and now has to wait like most people to get their passport, now its a shame he might miss doing something however its hardly news is it?
agree with that pebbles about men and women who have had accidents whilst on leave who have fought for our country to be called veterans as they have at least been abroad which was my actual point in the 1st point. i just cant see how stuff like this makes the news when its basically a bloke who had an accident lost his leg and now has to wait like most people to get their passport, now its a shame he might miss doing something however its hardly news is it? cookiemonster14
  • Score: 0

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