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Armed forces veterans

Population Outcome: People who Armed Forces Veterans have Health Equality

Armed forces veterans are defined as being individuals who have served for at least one day in the Armed Forces, either as a regular or a reservist. Leaving the armed forces can be a challenging transition for some, particularly if following a longer length of service, if their departure is not a planned one, or if the person has complex and enduring health issues. Most veterans will have served for longer than one day; Ministry of Defence Data from 20187/18 found the average length of service was 11 years for the Royal Navy and Royal Marines; 10 years for the Army; and 15 years for the Royal Air Force.

There can be barriers to accessing appropriate support, health and care services for veterans. These may include a lack of understanding by agencies of their illness or injuries, and a lack of recognition of the impact of traumas they may have experienced in their service. Veterans may also be unaware of what services are available, how to access them, or the benefits in making their veteran status known to the health and care system. There is no central database of armed forces veterans, and the onus is on the individual to identify their status as a veteran to their GP practice, and for the GP practice to record that data in order to benefit.


Percentage of the population aged 16 years and over who had previously served in the UK armed forces, 2021, local authorities in England and Wales

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The Story Behind the Outcome

Lived Experience


Simon's Story

Living with PTSD : Davina's story

Wounded Falklands War Veteran recalls his story

Fighting with Pride


Highlights of challenges faced by veterans in Essex

Healthwatch Essex report

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Suffolk veterans mental health report

Needs Assessment - Armed forces and veterans in Suffolk

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Armed forces veterans in the UK labour market report

Warwick Institute for employment research

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Military families in stress project

Healthwatch Suffolk - project evaluation report

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What matters to veterans?

Healthwatch Essex - Report captures lived experience of military veterans during transition from military to civilian life 2021

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Suffolk Armed Forces Covenant annual report 22/23

Supporting our UK military personnel, their families and veterans based, residing or linked to Suffolk

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Healthwatch Essex Veterans report

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Published Evidence

Armed forces covenant

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Veteran’s Health

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Wider determinants of health

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Wider Data

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Further Reading

Further Information

Useful Organisations

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Our Ambition

What we know matters to people and why

What matters?Why?
I have my status as a veteran recognised and recordedRecording of veterans’ status enables individuals to access the care they need and enables better planning of services.
I have equity of access to healthcareEnabling access to health and care in line with the Armed Forces Covenant is a legal duty for the public sector.
I receive high quality careUnderstanding the unique experiences of armed forces veterans and their families, the nature of their physical and mental health needs, is vital to delivering care sensitively.
I am seen and heardVeterans want care and support from peers and professionals who truly understand their experiences. Veterans who use services and those are part of the workforce should have their voices heard in care design and delivery.

How will things be different in Suffolk and North East Essex

We will ensure all relevant health and care staff are aware of the Armed Forces Covenant and its legal duties, and the nature of veterans’ health and wellbeing needs.We will actively ask people using services if they have ever served in the armed forces, and promote the benefits of sharing their status with health and care services.
We will gather and use local data on serving forces and families, and veterans and their families, to plan the needs of veterans in our communities.We will encourage veterans to recognise and share their status with health and care services to ensure they are not disadvantaged in their access to support.
We will take a holistic approach to veterans’ physical and mental health needs, involving veterans, their carers and families in their care.

Case Studies – how we are making progress across Suffolk & North East Essex

Relevant plans and strategies


NHS Suffolk and North East Essex Integrated Care Board
Joint Forward Plan


Ipswich and East Suffolk
Alliance Delivery Plan

North East Essex 
Alliance Delivery Plan

West  Suffolk
Alliance Delivery Plan

Page last updated: January 2024

Last Updated on 11 June 2024

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