Supporting existing veterans and those in transition back to the community is a national priority set out in the Operating Plan for England 2012-13 (Department of Health, 2011). Veterans include anyone who has served for at least one day in the Armed Forces (Regular or Reserve), as well as Merchant Navy seafarers and fishermen who have served in a vessel that was operated to facilitate military operations by the Armed Forces.

What do we know?

It is difficult to determine the exact number of people who do retire back to each locality.  There is no agreed single process that tracks all service leavers. The Services Careers Transition Partnership track a percentage of their service leavers for up to 2 years, while the Service Personnel Veterans Agency track those veterans who have approached them. Currently Services Resettlement Officers should identify vulnerable service leavers and track their progress. Additional sources for tracking service leavers include Office for National Statistics and census data for ex-service personnel.

Facts, figures and trends

Table 1: Armed Forces personnel in Bracknell Forest


MOD Total








Other Ranks


Non Industrial











Source: Defence Statistics

Numbers of armed forces personnel living in an area were recorded as part of the National Census. This showed the proportion of personnel who were living in a communal establishment or who were living at home.

Figure 1: Armed forces residents living in communal establishments 2011

Armed forces personnel living in a communal establishment

Source: Census 2011

More veterans are expected to settle in the coming years due to service reductions. The outflows to the local community were small last year with 83 service leavers leaving the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst (RMAS) in December 2012.

National & local strategies (current best practices)

Bracknell Forest Council and its partners signed a MOD Community Covenant with the Royal Military Academy in 2011.  The Council has established a Service Leavers Resettlement Group in partnership with the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst and the group action plan includes a variety of issues to support service leavers.  A number of successful Community Covenant Fund bids have also been made to support veterans.

What is this telling us?

Recent research by Col S J Hurley (2012) shows that:

  • Nine out of ten of the public surveyed thought it was common for personnel leaving the Forces to have some kind of physical, emotional or mental health problem, as a result of their time in the Forces.
  • There is, however, limited evidence to support the assertions that the post-national service veteran population in England fares any worse than a comparable population of non-veterans.
  • A small minority of veterans do experience difficulties post Service, these tend to manifest themselves on average 10 years post discharge. The presentation of common mental health problems or encounters with the criminal justice system is at a rate less than that in the general population.
  • The longer you serve, the less likely you are to have problems.
  • Early Service leavers are more likely to have adverse outcomes (e.g. suicide, mental health problems) and risk taking behaviours (e.g. heavy alcohol consumption, suicidal thoughts) than longer serving veterans.
  • Adverse outcomes in veterans are more commonly associated with Pre-Service adversity/vulnerabilities rather than a consequence of Service life or combat experience.

Needs of veterans are similar to any other person or family relocating, with the exception that high levels of housing support need may be expected in a small group with major disabilities. A range of voluntary sector agencies have been brought together locally in Berkshire in 2012 to support families with basic needs for housing, employment and access to mental health support as identified in the Murrison report. When a veteran leaves a summary health record is returned to their GP which DH note should be recorded with the Read code 'History Relating to Military Service': Ensuring this is done will help identify needs in future. Guidance for GPs is available in the 'meeting the healthcare needs of veterans' guide.

What are the key inequalities?

For Veterans their needs are similar to any other person or family relocating, with the exception that high levels of housing support need may be expected in a small group with major disabilities.

Recommendations for consideration by other key organisations

Local needs identified from a 2012 conference in Berkshire at which all services and voluntary sector agencies were represented were:

  • All healthcare providers in Berkshire to be asked to record veterans status following installation of the recommended read code
  • Engage with the soldiers, seamen, air force association (SSAFA) to provide signposting to families on how to negotiate pathway to services
  • There is a need for a local veterans champion in all National Health Service (NHS) areas, including a GP champion to provide a single point of contact
  • Develop links with serving personnel – inform military personnel whilst in service about mental health and wellbeing
  • All NHS services to identify veteran patients
  • NHS Berkshire Healthcare to mainstream veterans needs
  • Develop a local Berkshire local expert reference group to develop and drive a local strategy.

During 2013 Berkshire Healthcare Foundation Trust has commissioned a Veteran’s Service for the south central area and the team providing this service act as champions for the needs of veterans. A team of professionals across Berkshire from a variety of public and voluntary sector organisations have also been trained to understand the needs of veterans.  

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