About us

The Armed Forces and Veterans Network aims to support DCHS in the delivery of the Armed Forces Covenant Commitments.

  • The group is for any DCHS staff who might have a military connection, or who are simply interested in championing awareness of equality for veterans, Armed Forces personnel and their families, who might be disadvantaged when it comes to accessing healthcare.
  • We believe that our network is a key way to achieve this, by offering support and guidance for staff, raising awareness of key issues, challenging inequality and networking with like-minded colleagues
  • We have executive sponsorship, and feed back to the executive team if we feel that we need to facilitate change.

Operation Overlord - 80th Anniversary (6 June 2024)

6 June 2024 marks the 80th anniversary of Operation Overlord, which saw tens of thousands of soldiers embark from Portsmouth to cross the Channel, establishing a foothold across the French coast in order to begin the advance to liberate northwest Europe.

As dawn broke on the morning of 6 June 1944 thousands of Allied Warships made their way towards the coast of Northern France. D-Day had finally arrived. Operation Overlord, the largest amphibious invasion in the history of warfare was underway, heralding one of the most decisive campaigns of World War 2. More than 150,000 troops would land on five beaches in Normandy. You can find more information on this event below.

Lesbian Visibility Week 25th April - 1st May + International Lesbian Visibility Day 26th April 2024 - What is Lesbian Visibility Week?

Lesbian Visibility Week and Lesbian Visibility Day are annual visibility periods observed and celebrated in the US, UK, Australia, and increasingly worldwide. The aims of both the day and the week are to raise awareness of lesbian women and non-binary people.

International Lesbian Visibility Day recognises and celebrates lesbian women's achievements, contributions, and unique experiences. It also reflects on the challenges faced by these women and promotes a greater understanding of the LGBT+ community. By celebrating International Lesbian Visibility Day, we can create a culture of acceptance and inclusion and help create a more equal and just society for all.

Although the exact foundation of International Lesbian Day is uncertain, it is widely believed that it began in Australia and New Zealand in 1980 when a Lesbian Day March was held in New Zealand. The first Australian event was held at the Collingwood Town Hall in Melbourne on October 13, 1990.

Why is lesbian visibility important? 

  • Lesbian women and non-binary people exist at an intersection of sexual orientation and gender identity that can sometimes be overlooked. 
  • Lesbian women and non-binary are typically less visible than gay men in LGBT+ employee networks overall.
  • The lack of visibility is a barrier to attracting more LGBT+ women into our industry and our existing talent feeling able to be ‘out’ within the workplace. 
  • one report found that 23% of lesbians at work reported a feeling that they could not talk about their lives outside of work, compared to only 10% of women overall. 

Questions to ask

  1. Awareness: Does my organisation and/or LGBT+ network provide awareness-building education and initiatives for colleagues?
  2. Visibility: Does my organisation and/or LGBT+ network have specific and visible LGBT+ women role models and allies
  3. Allyship: How are we developing a culture of authentic allyship around LGBT+ women? 
  4. Communication: How are we signalling our support to the community externally?  
  5. Data: How are we tracking, measuring, and reviewing our progress?

Other resources you might find helpful:

Leadership Day on 20th March

Armed Leadership day 20th March Group Photo'Thank you so much for arranging the Army Insight and Leadership Day.  I have to say that without any family or friend connections to the armed forces, all my (admittedly outdated) view was based on old tv shows and media reports when something has gone wrong.  I was so impressed by all the people we met and their commitment to what they do and each other.  The way they build cohesive teams, lead and develop each other was inspirational, and I learned such a lot about the lives of our armed forces and the lessons we can bring into our own workplace, particularly leadership skills and empathy and understanding for our veteran colleagues.  I also learned quite a few things about myself- I’m not too bad at climbing, but definitely need to work on my logical problem solving!  I’d recommend everyone to attend this, it’s an amazing opportunity to learn and it was huge fun too'

HM Armed Forces Veteran Card

A HM Armed Forces Veteran Card is a way to prove that you served in the UK armed forces. The card can make it quicker and easier to apply for support as a veteran.

It’s free to apply.

You can currently only apply for a Veteran Card if you have a UK address. Veterans who do not have a UK address will be able to apply later this year.

Apply for an HM Armed Forces Veteran Card - GOV.UK

DCHS joined the Pride in Veterans Standards 7th July 2023

Fighting with pride is pleased to welcome the newest organisations to its Pride in Veterans Standard:

  • Monmouthshire County Council
  • Merthyr Tydfil County Borough Council
  • Royal Air Force Benevolent Fund
  • Op Courage London
  • Derbyshire Community Health Services

All committed to supporting LGBT+ Veterans, serving personnel and their families.

DCHS signing the Armed Forces Covent

Thanks to the hard work of the Network and with support from the executive board, DCHS has signed the Armed Forces Covenant and been accredited as a Veteran Aware organisation in recognition of its active support for ex and serving armed forces patients and NHS staff members. We are proud to say that it was named as a gold award holder in the Ministry of Defence’s Employer Recognition Scheme in recognition of its support for the armed forces community, including for NHS staff members who choose to serve as reservists or who are ex-forces personnel.

Veteran friendly GP surgeries

The Royal College of GP’s (RCGP) is currently working with GP surgeries to accredit them as ‘Veteran Friendly’. This programme enables practices to deliver the best possible care and treatment for patients who have served in the armed forces. Nearly 1,000 GP practices in England are already accredited through this programme, but currently only around 17 practices in Derbyshire are accredited. One of our aims in the Network is to try and increase this number. Please ask us for more details if you’re interested in this.

Government to record veteran suicide rates for the first time

For the first time, numbers of ex-service personnel who take their lives will be recorded officially by the government, following an agreement between the Office for Veterans’ Affairs (OVA), the MOD and the Office for National Statistics (ONS). You can view this information here.

This data will be used to further understand where there is a need for dedicated services in England and Wales. The data will allow the government to ensure that these targeted services are signposted to veterans, where they are needed most.

2024 AFC network meetings:

  • Thu 18th July - 13:00pm
  • Mon 19th September - 13:00pm
  • Fri 6th December -1 13:00pm 

Reserves Day Celebration - Wednesday 19 June 2024

Click here for more information.

Army Experience Leadership day - Tuesday 24th September 2024

Reserve your place now! Click here for more information.

Armistice Day

‘At the eleventh hour on the eleventh day of the eleventh month – we will remember them.’

The Armistice, an agreement to end the fighting of the First World War as a prelude to peace negotiations, began at 11am on 11 November 1918. Armistice is Latin for to stand (still) arms. To this day we mark Armistice Day around the United Kingdom with a Two Minute Silence at 11am on the 11th day of the 11th month. If you can, please stop and observe the silence on Armistice Day, and encourage your colleagues to do the same.

Military Referral Sources

This is not an exhaustive list of service and support available, but the main charities listed. Click here for more information.

Armed Forces Covenant

  • The Armed Forces Covenant is a promise by the nation ensuring that those who serve or who have served in the armed forces, and their families, are treated fairly.
  • It recognises that the whole nation has a moral obligation to members of the Armed Forces and their families, and it establishes how they should expect to be treated.
  • It exists to redress the disadvantages that the Armed Forces community faces in comparison to other citizens, and to recognise sacrifices made.
  • The purpose of the Covenant is to put the individual (or family) in a position comparable to that of an equivalent citizen (or family) that is not in the Armed Forces. This is about bringing the Armed Forces individual/family up to the level of the ordinary citizen rather than getting them beyond what an ordinary citizen may be entitled to. You can read more about the covenant here.

Veteran Aware

We have been formally recognised as ‘Veteran Aware’ by the Veterans Covenant Healthcare Alliance (VCHA), as an NHS healthcare provider committed to providing the best standards of care for the Armed Forces community. Read more here.

Veteran Aware information leaflet: We have developed this leaflet to give out to veterans if requested.

Op Courage - The Veterans’ Mental Health and Wellbeing Service

  • This new veteran-specific service is funded by NHS England and it brings together the existing TILS (Transition, Intervention and Liaison Service), CTS (Complex Treatment Service) and HIS (High Intensity
  • They were ‘re-branded’ earlier this year to make the referral process simpler, and bring each service together under the ‘Op Courage’ name.
  • There is one centralised number for each region (we come under the Midlands)  to make a single point of access - they will triage referrals and either see the patient themselves or redirect to the most appropriate service
  • Call 0300 323 0137 or email mevs.mhm@nhs.net

Updating your military status

Zero Suicide Alliance (ZSA)

Zero Suicide Alliance have free short e-learning courses, one version of which is focussed upon veterans:

This specific course, which was apparently designed in conjunction with Help for Heroes, covers:

  • Facts about suicide
  • How to spot signs that someone may be considering suicide
  • How to have a conversation with someone you’re worried about
  • Where to signpost to for help and support

Service Champion Training - Armed Forces Network

Please let Melanie Dyke know if you have attended training so a DPM lanyard can be forwarded to you!

ESR Training

As a Veteran Aware organisation, DCHS has made a commitment to support and improve the healthcare of our armed forces community. This includes increasing our staff awareness of the health issues affecting our veterans, and encouraging staff to be curious during patient encounters; just ask the question – 'have you ever served in the military?'.

On ESR, search ‘000 NHS Healthcare for Armed Forces’ for three e-learning modules for front line staff on how to engage and support our armed forces community patients, with useful links to other organisations for sign posting. You can also find the training within e-learning for health (e-LFH). If you have an e-LFH account, just search; 'NHS Healthcare for Armed Forces' to bring up the modules.

The annual Veterans’ Mental Health Conference brings together leading academics, researchers, medical professionals, and charities to discuss the key issues in military mental health. Organised by the King’s Centre for Military Health Research (KCMHR) with support from the Forces in Mind Trust (FiMT), these webinars are worth a watch if you have the time.

Christine Duffy, Armed Forces Network Chair and Advanced Clinical Practitioner

"When the Trust signed the Armed Forces Covenant in 2017, I was the Reserves workforce champion. I soon realised that I needed to connect with other colleagues to make sure they were aware of the policy changes. But I did not want this to be just about reservists, or even just DCHS employees. There was a bigger need to support the Armed Forces community in general."

"So I set up the network, not just for staff but for the whole community to include those who are currently serving as well as veterans, their families and anyone in Derbyshire who has an interest in improving services for the armed forces community. I am proud to have made DCHS aware of their obligation as an employer and service provider, and to have supported the organization in signing the armed covenant. Through the armed forces network, we can help drive policy and be advocates to and ensure equity in health and social care access for the armed forces community, in response to the NHS People's plan and the NHS Healthcare for the armed forces community."

Paula Bearder, Healthcare Assistant

“I don’t feel like I have a special story to tell as it is just my life as I know it. My husband Ty-Lee and I met at secondary school, we were friends and grew up in our local area together. He was in the cadets and we all knew it was inevitable he would join the army, He has now served in the Grenadier Guards for 28 years, but little did I know at that time that he would become my husband and together we would become an “Army family” with three children Daniel, Morgan and Imogen.

As a family we’ve lived in different locations depending where Ty-Lee was posted, until we made the decision to buy our forever home back in Derbyshire, where the children and I would live, and Ty-Lee would commute to wherever his career would take him.

I started working as a health care assistant at Ripley Urgent Treatment Centre 12 years ago and through my workplace I’m currently attending university to qualify as a nursing associate which brings its own challenges.

There have been difficult times for us as a military family. At one point my husband was doing back-to-back 6-month tours in Iraq and Afghanistan and I was at home trying to juggle work and bringing up a family.

One Christmas Day, Ty-Lee was deployed on tour and I was put on an early shift at work, the children had to be with an Aunt & Uncle and woke up with neither parent to celebrate Christmas. Although a great family network and the presents under the tree helped with their anguish, it was strength and resilience that got me through on returning to the children after my shift to play both Mum and Dad, the support from my workplace was absent. I do believe a scenario like this would not happen in current times as employees situations are considered and respected more by individual managers and the Trust itself. This knowledge comes from groups such as the Armed Forces Network at DCHS.

It’s not all been doom and gloom however, we manage to get away as a family whenever work (for us both) allows and we have a stable base for our family to develop which was a deciding factor when we chose to come back to Derbyshire many years ago.

Jordana Wright, Advanced Clinical Practitioner

"I joined the network earlier this year, mainly because of my military connection; my husband served in the Royal Marines for 15 years, and left last year so is now transitioning into civilian life. Having had insight into the Armed Forces and Veterans community over the past ten years, I’ve seen first-hand some of the struggles they face, which is often because they are reluctant to ask for help. For example, my husband once fractured his leg skiing, and continued to ski on it for another two weeks before agreeing to have it x-rayed! Another time he dislocated his shoulder, put it back in place himself and refused to see a doctor until it dislocated for the fifth time. The ‘just get on with it’ mind-set is often drilled into Armed Forces personnel, and they are far likely to try and manage things themselves rather than asking for help. This is why it’s so important for us to ask people if they have ever served in the Armed Forces, are still serving, or who have families who are serving, so that we can make sure we support them in DCHS. The network has been a great way to connect with fellow Armed Forces families, and work together to see how we can support each other and others in the Trust."

Mel Dyke, Intensive Health Visitor

I joined the Network last year after completing A2B Leadership course. I did not even know it existed! So, we need to spread the word! The Army has played a massive part of my life, having served for 10 years myself and being married to a soldier. I have first-hand experience of service life and Operational Tours serving in The Queen Alexandra’s Royal Army Nursing Core. The Army was not just a career but a lifestyle and that transition to ‘Civvy Street’ can be and has been a difficult one! My husband served for 15 years in The Light Dragoons and completed 4 tours of Afghanistan amidst all the other commitments.  I have lived through the struggles of ‘singely’ life as a wife and Mother when he has left for countless amounts of training, exercises and tours which can have a huge detrimental impact on Military families. To this day we continue to deal with the effects Operations have had on his mental health, having lost friends in service and friends to suicide. I joined the Network to signpost, support and serve this community, as I know it can be tough! I am currently standing in as joint chair for Christine Duffy whilst she is on active duty.

There is a plethora of Military charities out there, providing excellent support for veterans and Armed Forces personnel, and their families. They are always happy to provide you with advice, or signpost you in the right direction. Here are just a few of them which may be useful;


SSAFA the Armed Forces Charity works to ensure that the needs of the Armed Forces, veterans and their families are met in an appropriate and timely way. They offer a wealth of support and services for veterans, serving AF members and their families. They have a local branch in Derbyshire who can be contacted on 01773 828116​​​​​​​.

Combat Stress

Combat Stress provides a range of community, outpatient, and residential mental health services to veterans with complex mental health problems. They currently provide services in-person, and via phone and online.​​​​​​​

Royal British Legion

Perhaps best known for the yearly Poppy Appeal and Remembrance services, the Legion is a campaigning organisation that promotes the welfare and interests of current and former members of the British Armed Forces. They provide support with physical and mental wellbeing, financial and employment support, and have local community connections.​​​​​​​

Veterans Gateway

There is a huge network of organisations supporting the Armed Forces community, so finding the right one can be tricky. The Veterans Gateway act as a ‘gatekeeper’ to make it quick and easy by being a first point of contact for whatever support people may need. Many of the team are veterans themselves so they understand the issues that people face after leaving the Armed Forces. They work with people on a one-to-one basis, connecting them with the right support as soon as possible.​​​​​​​

Blind Veterans UK

​​​​​​​Blind Veterans UK helps ex-Service men and women of every generation rebuild their lives after sight loss. Particularly in our elderly patients, sight loss can lead to social isolation and difficulties coping at home. Please bear this charity in mind particularly if you come across elderly veterans who are suffering with sight loss; they may well be able to support them in lots of ways.