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Veterans' health FAQs

Frequently asked questions about veterans' health

Find answers to the questions most commonly asked about veterans' health.  



What is a veteran?

A veteran is anyone who has served for at least one day in the armed forces, whether regular or reserve. This also applies to Merchant Navy seafarers and fishermen who have served in a vessel when it was being used for military operations by the armed forces. 

Do I need to register with a GP when I leave the armed forces?

Yes. You should have a summary record of your health history given to you when you are discharged, with details of how your GP can obtain your medical records. 

What if I no longer have a copy of my health record from my time in the armed forces?

If you no longer have a copy of your health record summary from when you were in the armed forces, find out how individuals can obtain their own records (service or medical) from the Requests for personal data and service records on the GOV.UK website.

How long will I have to wait for treatment?

It depends on what you need. All veterans are entitled to priority NHS treatment for any condition related to their service. This includes veterans who do not receive a war pension. Priority treatment includes assessment, treatment, aids and appliances for conditions accepted as being due to their service.

Can I get financial support for my medical needs?

If you're a war pensioner who needs medical treatment or care because you were disabled while serving in the armed forces during war, the Defence Business Services Civilian Human Resources (DBS Civilian HR) may be able to help with costs. This used to be dealt with by the Service Personnel and Veterans Agency, which ceased operations on April 1 2014. It is now a part of DBS Civilian HR. You may also be able to get help from the Royal British Legion.

I am disabled. Can I get financial support?

If you need items like a stairlift, bathroom adaptations or personal alarm system, the DBS Civilian HR can help you apply for these from your local social services.

Can I get help for mental health issues, including post-traumatic stress disorder?

Yes. There are treatments available to help people cope with the psychological consequences of exposure to traumatic events, including trauma-focused cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT). The NHS and other partners can deliver these services for anyone who needs them, and they also have services specifically aimed at helping veterans. For more information, read about veterans' mental health.

I’ve got a health problem related to my service in the armed forces. Can I get special assistance?

Maybe. Your GP may be able to get you referred more quickly for any hospital care or treatment that is needed. However, this is subject to the clinical needs of others. 

Where can I get information about ex-service nursing homes?

The Ex-Services Homes Referral Agency (ESHRA) has a database of all ex-service nursing, convalescent and respite care homes in the UK. Contact the Royal British Legion on 08457 725725.

Page last reviewed: 24/06/2015

Next review due: 30/09/2017