Honour our armed forces by offering lasting support to veterans

24 June 2022
Armed Forces

On Armed Forces Day, Richard Henderson, Service Manager for our Live Life veterans service, says that to honour those who've served, we need to be able to provide lasting support to veterans and their loved ones.

Armed Forces Day is a day to honour and celebrate the contributions of the men and women in the British Armed Forces who have served and continue to serve our country. Unlike Remembrance Day this is a day to celebrate the living, it’s a time to appreciate the work done around the globe, whether it is delivering aid, providing security or maintaining peace. This is a day for Serving, Veterans, Reservists and Cadets to be celebrated as well as their families and friends that provide the continual support for them throughout their service and beyond.  

All around the United Kingdom there will be physical and virtual events taking place. In Edinburgh, people met at Charlotte Square this morning to parade along George Street to St Andrews’ Square, and across the country we’re seeing celebrations of those serving currently and those who have served. 

But among all the celebration, it’s important that we keep in mind what we can do to support those in the Armed Forces, not just while they serve but also once they’ve left the service, and to make sure they, their families and their loved ones don’t fall through the cracks. 

Last month, Cyrenians were part of the launch of the Armed Forces Covenant’s new Scottish Veterans Wellbeing Alliance, a network of organisations across Scotland set up to make sure that veterans and their loved ones are supported to stay healthy, empowered and valued within communities, and that we're offering the opportunities to learn and grow to their full potential in a safe and respectful environment.  

SWVA already connects 18 organisations operating around the country, offering support with issues from mental health and combat stress to housing, from family mediation to community events, and more. By connecting support services, we’re bringing together a joined-up support network so that every veteran who engages with any of us can access the support they need to meet the specific challenges they’re facing. 

We’re working to build up support in three ways: 


We're using our network to make the most of existing spaces, both those designed for veterans and the spaces which we know are helpful for other communities in need of support. We’re also developing new spaces for veterans to connect and build community. 


We’re building capacity and expertise among staff and volunteers throughout SWVA member organisations. We believe in building an accessible, tailored and personal support system for veterans – just as Cyrenians’ own services focus on person-first services. 


We’re focused on building holistic ways into and out of existing support services, and filling support gaps. We want to make sure that mental health services in particular meet the needs of the veterans and their families they support, and connect them to other support as needed. 

At Cyrenians, we believe really strongly in the ‘No Wrong Door’ approach to support – whoever you turn to for help, you should be actively being connected to the support you need, not told ‘we don’t do that here, go back to square one’. By building networks like the SWVA, we’re helping make sure that people engaging with any one of our 18 member organisations can connect with the specific support offered by others in the network. We’re also making sure that the expertise of organisations in the Alliance working with groups whose needs are often overlooked – organisations like Fighting With Pride, or SSAFA - is more fully reflected in all of our work, making sure that we’re all able to take into account the needs of LGBTQ+ veterans, younger veterans, those with dementia or physical disability, people experiencing homelessness, and others with complex needs. 

On Armed Forces Day, yes, we should celebrate the hard work done by those who serve. But we can’t just leave it at a parade and a party – if we believe in celebrating our servicepeople, and if we truly appreciate the work they do and the sacrifices they make for their country, we owe them lasting, meaningful support after they leave service. And that means taking a joined-up approach to supporting everyone leaving the Forces – from their first steps onto Civvy Street to support for them and their families to build community, deal with trauma and injury, and find a positive future for decades to come. 

Happy Armed Forces Day to everyone who’s serving, everyone who has served, and their families and loved ones – and I hope we’ll see some of you at our SWVA activities and events going forward!