New Year Honours: This is for veterans and families, says ex-soldier Andy Allen
Ulster Unionist MLA Andy Allen is to receive an MBE for services to veterans and their families in Northern Ireland.
A former soldier in the Royal Irish Regiment, which he joined in 2006, he was deployed to Afghanistan two years later.
Mr Allen was 19 when he had his right leg blown off and left leg shredded by a makeshift Taliban bomb while on an early morning patrol at Musa Qala, in Afghanistan's Helmand province.
The young soldier had only been in Afghanistan for two months before the attack, which also left him seriously visually impaired.
"In the early days it was extremely difficult," he told the Belfast Telegraph last night.
"I'm just thankful for the family and friends that I have that got me through.
"To receive this award is extremely humbling and a real privilege.
"I'm completely honoured.
"This MBE is in recognition to veterans and their families and my colleagues who work tirelessly behind the scenes."
Born and bred in east Belfast, the UUP MLA is a strong supporter of armed forces veterans.
In 2010, he established his own veterans charity to help meet the needs of former service personnel and their families who were living in Northern Ireland.
And earlier this year, the former soldier received a national honour - the Soldiering On award - for his charitable work helping other veterans.
As the only wheelchair user among Stormont MLAs, Mr Allen has also been prominent in raising issues of access for disabled people to the Assembly.