Veterans will be fast-tracked into teaching, prisons and the NHS as part of a government scheme to improve their employment prospects after leaving the armed forces.

It’s part of a £70 million  Veterans’ Strategy Action Plan by the Cabinet Office, which will also improve health and wellbeing services.

The government said its aim was to ‘make the UK the best place in the world to be a veteran’ as it gathers data to understand the veteran community.

A new recruitment scheme will be launched to fast track veterans into prison officer roles in around 50 prisons in England and Wales.

Change in attitudes 

The government has long been criticised by campaigners for its abandonment of military personnel after they had left the army, with no job prospects or reintegration into society. Many veterans had previously complained that supermarket shopping, registering with a GP or visiting a bank were overwhelming, as they had never had to do it while living on an army base since their teenage years.

Earlier this week, the government also announced it has launched a review into the impact of a ban on LGBTQ personnel in the military.  

Departments, including the Home Office, the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) and NHS England will work together to help veterans go into blue light roles and the health service. 

This will be done through the “Step into Health” scheme in the NHS and a formal network of leads between the Ministry of Defence (MOD), DWP and uniformed services to share best practice.

Veterans’ contributions will be recognised by society

Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster Steve Barclay said: Veterans make a fantastic contribution to society and the measures announced today will help even more ex-service personnel realise their potential.

Ex-service personnel will also be targeted to go from ‘Troops to Teachers’ through a £40,000 training bursary to become a secondary school teacher. The scheme will also allow school students to benefit from the unique skills and insight a military career provides.

The Great Place to Work for Veterans initiative, which guarantees interviews for veterans in the civil service, will also be rolled out to every department.

Minister for Defence People and Veterans Leo Docherty said: “The Veterans Strategy Action Plan will boost employment, modernise services and help us better understand the needs of the veteran community. Veterans already make a huge contribution to society and the plans outlined today step up our commitment to allowing them to live successful and healthy lives after service.”

Millions invested in tech

Veterans will also benefit from a £44 million investment in digital services, with pensions and compensation schemes being fully digitised for the first time. 

This will help the 1.2 million pensions members and 30,000 annual compensation claimants access services more quickly and easily.

More than £20 million of additional funding will be invested in health services in England, bringing further improvements to veterans’ mental health services, also known as Op COURAGE, and to meet physical health needs via the Veterans Trauma Network. More NHS trusts and GP practices than ever before will become veteran-friendly accredited.

NHS Chief Executive Officer Amanda Pritchard said: “Our Armed Forces personnel are an immense source of pride for our country but veterans and their families need access to NHS support that is considerate of their unique circumstances.”

“In line with our long term plan, the NHS is investing an additional £18 million to make our health services more accessible and ensure GP surgeries and hospitals are even more veteran friendly so that veterans and their families get the services they need, closer to home, which we know they want.”