Why veteran voices matter

Healthwatch Essex is exploring experiences of veterans transitioning back into civilian society after military service and is keen to hear from veterans across Essex.

The project, ‘What Matters to Veterans’ allows those who have previously worked in the military to have their voice heard and shape change in the county. Throughout the project, Healthwatch Essex has aimed to create a diverse demographic of participants – in particular we are still keen to hear from  female veterans, Navy veterans and RAF veterans.

After speaking with veterans who are part of the Collaborate Essex Forum and undertaking research into post-military care, such as the work GP practices do, Healthwatch Essex found that the experiences of veterans can sometimes be inconsistent and complex. This led to the creation of this project to understand more about the issues veterans encountered when leaving the Armed Forces.

Paul Findlay MBE is a veteran who was discharged from the British Army after he lost his leg during an explosion in Afghanistan in 2009. He has gone on to support various veterans charities as well as becoming a Healthwatch Essex board member.

Paul said, “One thing we don’t do well, is identify what a veteran is in the UK. A lot of people see the older generation as veterans but not the younger people leaving the forces now. This follows suit for those who have actually served in the military, often not seeing themselves as veterans.

“There is support for leavers now, especially those who are injured. Yet there are hundreds of thousands of people leaving the military without injury who are perhaps falling through the gaps and not receiving the same levels of support.”

‘What Matters to Veterans’ may provide helpful insight to professional bodies trying to provide support to those transitioning back into society – such as the NHS, veteran specific organisations and even MPs.

Paul said, “Veterans make up a large part of society through races, religion, disabilities and gender. If you are a veteran who does not think you’re being listened to, you now have an opportunity to make your voice heard and allow your experiences to help shape the future of veteran services.”

If you would like to be involved, email Engagement Officer Dan at [email protected]