Military personnel, civic dignitaries and local beneficiaries gathered yesterday for the launch of The Royal British Legion’s Advice and Information Centre.
The new centre on Queen’s Road, Brighton, comes as part of the Legion’s biggest ever transformation, designed to bring its work closer to the Armed Forces community.
The centre will offer a place for service personnel and veterans to get practical help and advice and for members of the public to find out more about the Legion.
Lucie Nowak, 34, of Chichester, has benefited from the services the Royal British Legion offer Lucie’s brother, Ben Nowak, was killed while on service in Iraq when an improvised explosive device hit the patrol boat he was travelling on in Basra on Remembrance Sunday 2006 when he was only 27.
Ms Nowak said: “Obviously it was a hard time but it does get easier to understand and I’m proud of what my brother did.”
Ms Nowak said she is grateful to the support she was given by the British Legion at the time.
She said: “For me it was the support, knowing that they were there, just little touches like that.
“It’s so nice to think that if you do need anything, that someone is there to talk.”
Ms Nowak now owns a hairdressing salon in Chichester, called Ben James in memory of her brother, and regularly runs fundraising events for the Legion.
In the past year, the Legion team in the South East has helped the Service community by paying out nearly £390,000 in grants, taking on 825 new cases and supporting 96 beneficiaries through the Benefits and Money Advice service.
The Legion also works with members of the service community who have left the service and need help adjusting to life.
Sandra Fruish, 61, area manager for Sussex, said: “My team is totally committed to providing the best possible service for members of the Service community, and their families, in Sussex.
“We don’t want the Service community to get preferential treatment, we just want them to get equal treatment.”