Supporting & Serving Military Veterans in Northern Ireland
This reports concludes that there exists a fairly expansive network of supports and services available to veterans based in Northern Ireland (NI) comprised of a number of voluntary and community organisations, as well as statutory and Ministry of Defence funded organisations which supplement the health and social care services available to all citizens.
Compared to Great Britain (GB) the veteran support sector in NI is relatively small and there is a notable lack of formal information sharing between organisations and across sectors. However, it remains unclear what impact, if any, this has on the provision of services to veterans as comprehensive information currently does not exist regarding the number of veterans living in NI and their utilization of treatment services.
The social, political and legislative context in NI clearly impacts the implementation and delivery of services for military veterans. Coupled with concerns regarding visibility and personal security both for support services and on behalf veterans themselves there is the potential for those seeking supports and services in NI to be considered at a disadvantage compared to their counterparts in GB despite demonstration by service providers to ensure equitable provision for those veterans living in NI. There is hence a clear need for future monitoring and research in order to secure an evidence base of the experience and outcomes for veterans living within NI.
The research identifies several areas where positive change can be enacted: representation and advocacy; data collection and monitoring; referrals pathways and communication channels; more joined-up and collaborative working, and veteran mental health. Underpinning all of these issues, is the need to normalise the idea that veterans in the region are first and foremost citizens of NI who may have a specific set of needs. The report highlights three key areas where change should take place:
1. Increasing the capacity of public service providers in delivering services to veterans, and to begin to building and/or increasing trust in public services among the veteran population;
2. Supporting and developing the existing infrastructure by building capacity in the local sector, increasing resources to key agencies; and
3. Embedding a veteran support delivery model in the local policy development and service provision context, providing a direct connection between on the ground service-providers and key decision makers.
To see this change, the team makes a number of recommendations. Some headlines include:
The establishment of an interagency, interdepartmental working group in the NI Executive Office with a strategic focus, modelled on the current Armed Forces Liaison Forum;
The establishment of designated contacts in regional agencies delivering health and social services in NI. This includes Jobcentres, Housing Executive Offices, and Health and Social Care Trusts.
The clarification and strengthening of the role of the Veterans’ Champions in the Councils.
If you wish to find more detailed information on the findings of Supporting & Serving Military Veterans in Northern Ireland including recommendations, the full report may be found here.
Current and Future Needs of Veterans in Northern Ireland
The Current and Future Needs of Northern Ireland Veterans is the second of a series of reports from the NIVHWS. The aim of this research to gain insight into the experience of veterans in Northern Ireland in accessing services, and to use these perspectives to outline the key needs of the cohort presently and as they are anticipated to develop in the longer term. NI veterans express needs similar to many of the rest of the veteran population in the UK, but also identify a unique set of issues related to living where they were formerly deployed. Issues related to trust, social stigma, and a desire for public recognition of military service are significant for NI veterans (as opposed to their UK counterparts) and as such, different methods of engagement and interventions may be required. The findings of this report validate many of the inferences made in Supporting and Serving Veterans in NI (Armour et al., 2017), and the recommendations are designed to complement and build upon those made in the previous report.