Veterans’ minister meets Trust’s Armed Forces programme

Monday 29 January 2024

Veterans minister Johnny Mercer at the monthly drop in session

Veterans’ minister Johnny Mercer has visited a monthly drop in session run by Guy’s and St Thomas’ Armed Forces programme. 

Around 30 veterans along with members of the Trust’s Armed Forces Network joined the community session, which offers support with health, welfare and employment, on Thursday 18 January. The sessions have been running at Ronald McDonald House since May 2023. 

The visit was hosted by Billy Kelly, the Trust’s head of Armed Forces (programme lead), and Sarah Austin, Chief Executive of the Integrated and Specialist Medicine clinical group and Executive lead for Armed Forces. Mr Mercer was introduced to veterans who shared their personal experiences. 

Guy’s and St Thomas’ has a strong and proud history with the Armed Forces and was one of the first Trusts in London to sign the Armed Forces Covenant. This shows a commitment to ensuring that those who serve or have served in the Armed Forces, and their families, are treated fairly and don’t face disadvantage. The Trust has also achieved Veterans Aware accreditation and a gold Defence Employer Recognition Scheme award. 

The Trust’s Armed Forces programme works with the Forces Employment Charity and other organisations to support and advocate recruitment of the Armed Forces community. It also works with the Defence Medical Welfare Service on a range of programmes which provide specialist advice and support for Armed Forces patients. These include Op COURAGE, a specialist mental health service for veterans which is funded by NHS England and the government.   

Johnny Mercer talking to members of the Trust’s Armed Forces Network

Billy Kelly, Head of Armed Forces for Guy’s and St Thomas’, said: “We were delighted to welcome the Minister and talk to him about our extensive Armed Forces programme. Our monthly drop in sessions are extremely popular and play a valuable part in our wider network of support.” 

Minister for Veterans’ Affairs, Rt Hon. Johnny Mercer MP, said: "It was great to meet Guy’s and St Thomas’ Armed Forces team and hear about the linked up care they provide to veterans through Op COURAGE and Op RESTORE, our fantastic mental and physical health pathways specifically designed for veterans.

"83% of hospital trusts are now Veteran accredited; I want to get that to 100% by the end of the year. By working together, we can make the UK the best place in the world to be a veteran."

Last updated: January 2024

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