JSNA > Living Well

Veterans/ Ex-armed Forces

A military veteran is defined as anyone who has served in the British Armed Forces for at least a day. This includes reservists. The British Armed Forces are made up of the Royal Navy, the Royal Marines, the British Army and the Royal Air Force. There are estimated to be 18,000 people across the country who transition back to civilian life each year.

Many service leavers make the transition into civilian life without issue and report good health and wellbeing. A very small number of service leavers struggle to reintegrate back into civilian life usually due to compounding factors including adverse childhood experiences, experience in the armed forces and circumstances in which they left the armed forces. As a result, a minority find themselves unemployed, homeless and potentially part of the criminal justice system.

Key messages

  • The 2021 Census identified 22,615 veterans in County Durham
  • Veterans make up 5.2% of the 16+ population which is higher than the England average of 3.8%
  • Veterans experience a variety physical health, mental health and social issues which affect their overall sense of wellbeing and do have unmet need
  • 62% of County Durham veterans reported that they experienced good or very good health compared to 73% for non-veterans (Census 2021)

Veterans data report

Assessments and audits

In 2023, a Health Needs Assessment (HNA) of military veterans / ex-armed forces was carried about by Durham County Council’s Public Health Team on behalf of County Durham Armed Forces Forum. A summary of which is available here:

Summary of the HNA of Military Veterans in County Durham (PDF; 148Kb)

The full HNA can be found here (please note links to external sites may not be fully accessible).

Our strategies, plans and groups

An Armed Forces Forum has been set up to encourage all partners within County Durham to work together to take positive measures to prevent any disadvantage to individuals as a result of military service. The forum involves representatives of the armed forces and organisations supporting ex-service personnel, as well as elected councillors and partner organisations.

In December 2021 we renewed our commitment to the Armed Forces Community by re-signing the Armed Forces Covenant which is a commitment to ensure that those who serve or have served, and their families, are treated fairly and are not disadvantaged in accessing public services as a result of their military service.

We will endeavour to uphold the key principles of the Armed Forces Covenant, which are:

  • No member of the armed forces community should face disadvantage in the provision of public and commercial services compared to any other citizen.
  • In some circumstances special consideration may be appropriate, especially for the injured or bereaved.

The evidence base

Post-traumatic stress disorder, NICE guideline [NG116]

Personalised care for veterans in England: A guide for clinical commissioning groups and local authorities

Other relevant links

Armed Forced Outreach Service

Support for Armed Forces Families

Armed Forces Covenant: guidance and support