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.

A huge thank you for attending the Army leadership day 13th September 2023, representing Team Derbyshire! Please keep an eye on the page for the next one. 

Image of team at Armed Leadership Day

Historic moment as PM apologises to LGBT+ Veterans for 'gay ban' in military

On the 19th July 2023 Prime Minister, Rishi Sunak, took the momentous step of apologising to the nation for the treatment of LGBT+ veterans who have suffered the lifelong impact of the so-called ‘gay ban’ which existed in the armed forces up until the year 2000.

Speaking at the last Prime Minister’s Question Time before the MPs’ Summer break, Sunak said sorry to parliament.

The apology comes at the same time as the publication of a long-awaited judge-led review. Today marks the culmination of over 20 years of campaigning for justice. In 2020, specialist charity Fighting with Pride was set up by former Royal Navy officer, Craig Jones and ex-RAF navigator, Caroline Paige to right the wrongs of the ban, including financial remedy from lost pensions and loss of earnings. Craig Jones and Caroline Paige joined veterans to hear the apology in parliament.

Up to 5000 veterans are estimated to have been affected both mentally and financially. Many were subjected to highly intrusive military police investigations, imprisoned and have lived with criminal records. Some were even put through conversion therapy; chemical and psychiatric.

Lord Etherton, who led the Review into the impact of the ban, has made over 60 recommendations, including that substantial financial reparations should be made. Fighting With Pride is calling for the immediate creation of a hardship fund to support those with urgent needs and money for people with terminal conditions. These emergency measures must be followed by a comprehensive compensation scheme to remedy financial losses due to the ban.

Craig Jones MBE, Executive Chair, and Caroline Paige, Chief Executive of Fighting With Pride, said: ‘This is a deeply emotional moment for both of us, a day we’d hoped for but sometimes wondered if it would actually happen. More importantly, this is the day thousands of veterans whose lives have been blighted by the cruel ban have been waiting for. It’s a watershed moment for LGBT+ veterans who’ve lost careers, homes, families and their sense of honour and justice.
‘The Prime Minister’s apology on behalf of the nation marks the culmination of a very long road travelled on behalf of people who’ve suffered unimaginable loss and shame. Sadly, for some, this day comes too late.  
‘We must now ensure the government moves quickly, so that words translate into action. We’ll be working with government to make sure every affected veteran gets the reparation and compensation they’re owed.’
Carol Morgan served in the army from 1978 to 1984 before being thrown out:
The day I was dismissed was the most heart-breaking day of my life. I lost my career, home and family. I had to ‘out’ myself to my father. All for being gay- how can that be made up for? The humiliation and lack of self worth.  
‘With the report today, the public will finally know the truth, how we were hounded like animals for our sexuality. As service personnel, prepared to put our lives on the line for our country, we were disregarded. The apology offers me some comfort but for others, it’s too little too late. It’s really sad, many have taken their own lives.

Ken Wright, 62, is a former RAF Police Officer, who despite being considered a rising star was forced out in 1990 simply because he ‘admitted’ to being gay:
After being denied the opportunity to defend one’s country, being told you aren’t good enough to wear the uniform, after hiding the truth, shamefaced, from family, friends and employers, it takes huge inner strength to feel reconciled all of a sudden today.
 ‘I can’t think of a greater insult than to be told, ‘your country doesn’t want you’. Carrying that insult for 35 years scars you for life. On the day I was kicked out, I huddled in the corner of a grubby bedsit and cried my eyes out.  My partner then, my husband now, recently told me, ‘your hair turned grey overnight’. I was 26 years old.
‘Sorry is a small word, one of the hardest to say. I accept the prime minister’s apology with good grace, diluted by melancholy for what might have been. ‘

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.

Armed Forces Network Meeting : 28th Sep 2023

Click here for more information.


This year, three Derbyshire NHS Trusts will once again unite with Reserves from 212 Field Hospital to run 13.1 miles for a military charity. We are delighted that staff from the University of Derby are also joining this year too.

This year we are supporting Scotty's Little Soldiers.

The team at Scotty's are wonderful and we are pleased to support the work they do for our bereaved children and families.

Scotty's has a big goal to be supporting 1000+ children and young people annually by 2030. They are currently supporting just over half that number. Through fundraising for Scotty’s, we and hopefully you, (thanks in advance) are part of our journey in achieving this goal.

Derbyshire Armed Forces Community Staff Network is fundraising for Scotty's Little Soldiers (justgiving.com)

Launch of the SIS group (Last Wed of the month 10am. LAUNCH date: 27/09/2023)

Sisters in Service is a staff network group for female veterans and reservists. A safe space for support.

Veteran covenant healthcare alliance conference

The VCHA’s event, which will be at The Barbican Centre on Wednesday 20 September 2023, is now fully subscribed, with a number of attendees on the wait list. However, the team are currently working up options for a live feed, allowing people to view it from the comfort of their desk or from home via Microsoft Teams/zoom.

You can book here.

Chairman Prof Tim Briggs CBE said: “We know not everyone will be able to join us in London. This is either because tickets for our free face-to-face event have been snapped up or due to operational pressures are unable to travel due to time and tight budgets.  

“That is why I have asked my team to scope a remote/live feed option.   This allows as many healthcare professionals and our partners as possible to celebrate achievements and to help us share and drive the implementation of best practice to improve our Armed Forces community healthcare whilst at the same time raising standards for all in the NHS.

“We’re really looking forward to seeing all of you.”

Confirmed speakers will include:

  • Mr Johnny Mercer MP, Minister for Veterans’ Affairs (OVA).
  • Ms Kate Davies CBE, Director of Health and Justice, Armed Forces and Sexual Assault Services Commissioning, NHS England.
  • Professor Tim Briggs CBE, Chair and National Lead for the Veterans Covenant Healthcare Alliance (VCHA) and Clinical Improvements and Recovery for NHS England

Colonel David Richmond CBE – Independent Veterans Advisor to UK Government Ministers at Cabinet Office.

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.

This year's Poppy Appeal launches on Thursday 28th October. The Royal British Legion’s team of collectors have been at the heart of the Poppy Appeal for 100 years and, as Covid-19 restrictions ease, they are back in local communities across the United Kingdom to raise vital funds for the Armed Forces community. If you are working from home and won’t get chance to buy your poppy this year, you can donate online, via text or through other fundraising activities.

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

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.