With Armed Forces Day nearly upon us, Diane Palmer from Veterans First reflects on the support available for armed forces and military veterans.
Whilst most serving personnel have successful careers in the military, for some the transition to civilian life presents new challenges.
At ‘Veterans First’ we offer a specialist NHS mental health and well-being service that supports veterans and their carers.
We provide talking therapies, medication, practical and welfare support, physical health checks and a wide variety of social activities and support groups. We also work closely with the MOD and Service Charities.
We have recently won the Health Service Journal Award for ‘Specialist Services’ for our partnership working with Walking with the Wounded and Open Road, where we provide enhanced therapies such as anger management, substance misuse interventions and employment support.
We have now launched our innovative ‘Veterans Universal Passport’, which I designed personally last year in response to veterans feeling confused about who was providing what services for them and professionals duplicating work. This veteran held folder will allow all professionals to make a bullet point entry to create a running and active record of support and also contains crisis numbers, helplines and a veteran task list.
NHS England are funding a formal evaluation to be carried out by the Veterans and Families Institute at Anglia Ruskin University and it is hoped that this can be rolled out nationally to any veteran requiring multi-agency support. At Veterans First we are proud to boast our 100 percent positive on our ‘Friends and Family test’ because our patients’ experience of their care is paramount.
We work tirelessly to uphold the principles set out in the Armed Forces Covenant and will continue to raise awareness through regional training and via social media. Our Armed Forces do not necessarily wish to be considered heroes, nor do they wish to be portrayed as ‘damaged’, all they hope for is clinicians who care enough to listen, who keep their word and who understand how their military experiences may have caused their condition or impacted on how they cope.
Given the right support, in the right place and at the right time our veterans prove time and again how they can overcome untold adversity and contribute positively to society.’