All veterans and their family members and carers can access a range of specialist healthcare and support created to provide treatment and care for many different problems.
Who counts as a veteran?
You are a veteran if you have served in the armed forces for at least one day either through National Service or traditional enlistment.
Waiting lists and priority treatment
If you have a health problem not caused by your time in the armed forces, you are likely to go on a waiting list before you can get the full treatment from the NHS. This is the usual process for NHS treatment.
If you have a health problem caused by your time in the armed forces, you are also likely to go on a waiting list. However, you may be able to get NHS care quicker than usual through priority treatment for veterans.
Priority treatment is not guaranteed. Getting priority treatment depends on your situation and the nature of the treatment required.
- If other people have a higher clinical need than you
- The urgency of your treatment
- The type of treatment you need.
Check with your GP if you can get priority treatment for the NHS service you need.
As a veteran, you should make your GP aware of your service and ask it be noted in your medical file that you are an armed forces veteran. This can help should you need medical treatment in the future.
Support for physical health problems caused by service
The Defence Medical Service and National Health Service are dedicated to treating and supporting veterans who have physical health problems caused by their time in the armed forces.
Veterans Trauma Network (VTN)
The Veterans Trauma Network (VTN) is an NHS service that provides specialist care and treatment to veterans who have physical health problems as a result of their time in the armed forces. The VTN does not provide veteran mental health support, but works alongside Op COURAGE: the Veterans Mental Health and Wellbeing Service.
How the Veterans Trauma Network can support you?
The VTN works closely with many organisations, including:
- GP surgeries
- Specialist NHS services
- Military and non-military charities
The VTN can support you by:
- Providing personalised treatment within the NHS
- Treating you through military and civilian clinicians who understand the military environment and specialise in the type of physical health problems you have
- Helping families and carers of veterans with physical health problems access appropriate support services.
Who the Veterans Trauma Network can help
The VTN can support you:
- If you have a physical health problem of any type or severity
- If your physical health problem is a result of your time in service
- No matter when your physical health problem first appeared
- No matter when you left the armed forces.
Accessing the Veterans Trauma Network
Ask a GP to refer you to the VTN. They can do this by emailing email@example.com (GP’s can refer you even if you were not medically discharged.)
Veterans Welfare Service (VWS)
The Veterans Welfare Service (VWS) provides one-to-one support to all veterans, their dependants and carers. It is run by Veterans UK, which is part of the Ministry of Defence (MoD). The focus of the service is to provide assistance following a change in situation that may have resulted in a welfare need, such as:
- Leaving the services
- Changes in disablement.
- Changes affecting income or finances
- Changes affecting housing.
Who do they assist:
- Veterans (anyone who has Served in HM Armed Forces, regular or reserves including National Servicemen), their families and dependants.
- Anyone who is eligible for, or in receipt of compensation from the Armed Forces
- Compensation Scheme (AFCS) or the War Pensions Scheme (WPS).
- Service personnel who are to be medically discharged or have an enduring welfare requirement on discharge.
- Bereaved families of service personnel.
How the VWS can help:
Help and guidance can be given through either telephone contact or face to face via a national network of Welfare Managers. Initial contact should be made by telephone to one of the Veterans Welfare Centres. Once contact has been made, a Welfare Manager will be allocated to become the individual’s caseworker
Contact the VWS
Centurion (London, SE and SW England)
Tel 02392 702 232
Kidderminster (South and Central Wales, Midlands and East England)
Tel 01562 825 527
Norcross VWC (NW England, Yorkshire and Humber, North Wales and IOM)
Tel 01253 333 494
Glasgow (Scotland, NE England, NI and ROI)
Tel 01412 242 709
Veterans UK helpline – Freephone
(UK only): 0808 1914 2 18
The Veterans’ Gateway service is the first point of contact for all Tri-Service veterans, and their families. Its expert content covers welfare areas: housing, employment, finances, living independently, mental wellbeing, families and communities, and physical health.
Its unique support (both in the UK and abroad) is funded by the Armed Forces Covenant. And supported by charities and organisations and individuals, including the National Health Service (NHS), the Government of the United Kingdom (GOV.UK) and the Ministry of Defence (MOD).
Tel: 08088 021 212
Support for disabled veterans
There are many different NHS, MoD and charity services that are dedicated to providing support and treatment to veterans with disabilities.
Disablement Service Centres
If you lost a limb during your service, Disablement Service Centres (DSCs) can offer you specialist prosthetic and rehabilitation support. You can be referred to a DSC during your regular medical treatment if the service will benefit you. Ask your
GP if you want more information about DSCs.
Veteran’s Prosthetic Panel (via DSC)
If you need to apply for funding for a high-quality prosthetic limb, DSCs can apply to the Veteran’s Prosthetic Panel on your behalf. You cannot apply for funding by yourself.
For the application to be considered, you must have either:
- Lost a limb during military service
- Lost a limb due to an injury caused in service.
Blesma offer advice and support to veterans who have lost a limb, the use of a limb, an eye or the use of sight during military service. They work closely with NHS and MoD services for disabled veterans and can refer you to useful services. They also offer advice on financial benefits and support as well as help you find appropriate community groups.
Blesma, The Limbless Veterans
115 New London Road
Tel: 020 8590 1124
Blind Veterans UK
Veterans with sight loss can get help and support from Blind Veterans UK. They offer a range of support, including rehabilitation services, practical advice and emotional support.
Blind Veterans UK
126 Fairlie Road
Tel: 0300 111 22 33
Other Organisations Offering Help
There are many organisations that offer financial advice and support to veterans and their families or carers. This includes charities dedicated to supporting the armed forces community.
Veterans UK is part of the MoD. They provide free support for serving personnel, reservists, veterans and their families, including:
- An urgent helpline
- Running the Veterans Welfare Service and Defence Transition Services
- Helping access support from government, local and charity organisations
- Funding compensation scheme payments.
Find more information about Veterans UK
Ministry of Defence
Tel: Freephone (UK only): 0808 1914 218
For serving personnel, veterans and armed forces families. The charity Combat Stress provides self-help advice on its website. They offer mental health helplines for 24/7 confidential advice and support
Combat Stress website
Veterans and their families helpline: 0800 138 1619
You can also text on 07537 173 683
and email firstname.lastname@example.org
Defence Medical Welfare Service (DMWS)
Defence Medical Welfare Service (DMWS) provides practical and emotional support to military personnel, veterans, their families and other entitled civilians when they’re in hospitals, rehabilitation or recovery centres.
The Old Stables
Tel: 01264 774 000
The DMWS also provide a UK-wide telephone welfare support service via their DMWS National Response Service. This enables them to reach those needing support who are receiving treatment in a hospital where there is not a DMWS welfare officer in residence.
National Response Service
Tel: 0800 999 3697
Royal British Legion
The Royal British Legion gives advice and support on wellbeing on its website and through its community branches. For additional advice and support, the Royal British Legion also have an online chat and helpline that is open 8am to 8pm, 7 days a week.
Tel: 08088 028 080
SSAFA understand the unique demands of service life, whether it’s on UK soil or overseas. Support is available for people at any stage in their military career; from the youngest recruit to the oldest veteran – no one’s service is ever forgotten. We have more than 4,000 trained SSAFA volunteers who provide personalised, face-to-face support to those in their local area.
Whatever you are facing – from debt or addiction to mental health problems – our Forces and their families can rely on SSAFA and their personalised support to help them through it, for as long as it takes to get that person’s life back to where they want it to be. To get support, call their helpline or use their online chat Monday to Friday, 9 to 5.30pm.
Tel: 0800 260 6767
For veterans who struggle to live independently. STOLL are the leading provider of supported housing to vulnerable veterans. They provide affordable, high-quality housing and support services to enable vulnerable and disabled veterans to lead fulfilling, independent lives.
Tel: 020 7385 2110
Togetherall is an online mental health support service that provides anonymous, round-the-clock online support, with trained counsellors available at all times. There’s a supportive community and lots of free resources that all armed forces personnel, reservists, veterans and their families can use at any time.