Skip to main content

Veterans, service leavers, and non-mobilised reservists

Find healthcare and welfare support dedicated to veterans, service leavers, non-mobilised reservists, and their families and carers.

All veterans, service leavers, non-mobilised reservists 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 1 day.

Reservists who are not mobilised are also given the status of veteran until they return to actively serving.

If you are a mobilised reservist registered with Defence Medical Services (DMS), find information about accessing NHS healthcare while in active service.

Help for service leavers

During and after your discharge period, there are a number of actions you can take to help NHS and specialist veteran services support you.

Find more information for service leavers

Support for health problems not caused by service

The NHS can support you with all types of health problems. It does not matter if they are as a result of your service or not.

If you have not already, it is important to register with a GP surgery as soon as possible and tell them you are a veteran. A GP can help refer you to NHS or dedicated veteran specialist services.

Find more information about NHS services

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 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. This includes:

  • if other people have a higher clinical need than you
  • the urgency of your treatment
  • the type of treatment you need

Check with a GP if you can get priority treatment for the NHS service you need.

Find more information on waiting lists and priority treatment

Veteran friendly GP surgeries and trusts

Some GP surgeries and NHS trusts have staff trained to be aware of health problems that veterans might face.

These are referred to as veteran friendly or veteran aware.

They are designed to support you with your healthcare in many ways, including:

  • having medical staff with military healthcare backgrounds
  • having staff trained to treat health problems that commonly affect veterans
  • having knowledge of specialist NHS and DMS services designed specifically for members of the armed forces

You can contact a GP surgery to ask if they are veteran friendly.

NHS England: Find a veteran aware NHS trust

Support for physical health problems caused by service

There are DMS and NHS services 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 england.veteranstraumanetwork@nhs.net.

A GP 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 families and carers.

It is run by Veterans UK, which is part of the Ministry of Defence (MoD).

GOV.UK: More information and get in touch with the Veterans Welfare Service

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 a GP if you want more information about DSCs.

Veteran's Prosthetic Panel

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

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 helping you find appropriate community groups.

Blesma: Find more information

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: Find more information

Financial support

There are many organisations who offer financial advice and support to veterans and their families or carers.

This includes charities dedicated to supporting the armed forces community.

Veterans UK

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

GOV.UK: Find more information about Veterans UK

GOV.UK: Contact Veterans UK

Integrated Personal Commissioning for Veterans (IPC4V)

Integrated Personal Commissioning for Veterans (IPC4V) is an approach to personalised care for veterans who have a long-term physical, mental or neurological health condition or disability.

Eligible veterans are supported by a personalised care plan. You will develop and agree this together with local health and social care organisations. In some cases, a range of military charities may also help.

For more information about personalised care, contact your local clinical commissioning group.

Mental health support

Veterans and their families and carers can access dedicated mental health support services run by the MoD, the NHS and mental health charities. These include:

  • Op COURAGE: the Veterans Mental Health and Wellbeing Service
  • the Veterans and Reserves Mental Health Programme
  • the Combat Stress mental health helpline
  • urgent NHS mental health support

Find out more about mental health support for veterans and families

Charity support

There are many charities dedicated to providing support, advice and aid for veterans and their families.

Many of these charities provide a range of help, including disability support, rehabilitation, self-help programmes, accessing services and further financial support.

Find more information about charities that can help veterans and their families

Sexual assault and abuse support

If you have been sexually assaulted or abused while in the armed forces or as a veteran, there are NHS services and charities that can give you help and advice.

Find help after rape and sexual assault

Forward Assist's Salute Her UK: advice and support for women who are veterans or currently serving

Support for families of veterans

There is a range of support and advice available for families of armed forced veterans and non-mobilised reservists.

This includes services and charities dedicated to helping you with any healthcare and welfare concerns.

Find more information about support for armed forces families

Page last reviewed: 18 August 2021
Next review due: 18 August 2024