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Further endorsement for Veterans Aid wellbeing model

Veterans Aid

3 min read Partner content

Veterans Aid's Welfare to Wellbeing© model is gaining traction internationally.

A recently published Australian research paper1 is the latest to endorse UK charity Veterans Aid's Welfare to Wellbeing© methodology.

Published under the auspices of Flinders University (Open Door: Understanding and Supporting Service Personnel and their Families College of Education, Psychology and Social Work) for the Royal Commission into Defence and Veteran Suicide, the paper is focused on veteran suicide. Inevitably however, it touches on wider aspects of service and post-service life.

Professor Ben Wadham, one of the Report's four co-authors, said: "The Mapping Service and Transition to Self-Harm and Suicidality report has demonstrated that veteran suicide is multifactorial and not simply the result of deployment trauma. Veteran trauma can also be a result of military and unit cultures, the disposition of command and the systems that govern the veteran including military justice, health systems and the claims processes of the Department of Veterans Affairs.

"The methodology behind this approach is informed by a welfare to wellbeing model inspired by (the charity) Veterans Aid in the United Kingdom. This approach moves beyond the ‘broken soldier’ approach to recognise the skills and experience that veterans develop and carry into civilian life if they leave the services. This recognition of what the Open Door veteran wellbeing research initiative at Flinders University calls the ‘sovereign asset’ demonstrates that a strengths-based approach to research and services is contributing to a shift in the way we understand and support veterans and their families."

CEO of Veterans Aid Dr Hugh Milroy, who introduced the concept in 2009 and has used it to underpin the charity's work ever since, said: "The acceptance of movement from traditional 'welfare' to holistic 'wellbeing' represents a paradigm shift in approach to veteran care and it is something that has universal application. In my role of Head of Wellbeing at the World Veterans Federation (WVF) I oversee this on a global stage, and it is gaining traction in areas where traditional 'welfare' and/or philanthropy has failed to deliver enduring solutions to adversity."

Through its influence and advocacy, the WVF Wellbeing Division lobbies for the adoption of comprehensive, veteran-centred approaches to wellbeing, based on individual need rather than traditional concepts of welfare and specific health issues.

Dr Milroy said: "These are complex and challenging times and changes in thinking don't take place overnight, but as far back as 2018 our model was being taken up by other visionary organisations."

Five years ago, Tramecia Garner, then Associate Director for Housing & Residential Programs at US charity Swords to Plowshares, spent two weeks at Veterans Aid. She said on her return to San Francisco: “Veterans Aid has a model we can look to for a way of doing business that works. The Welfare to Wellbeing© model is built upon addressing the needs that veterans bring to the table as well as those needs that staff notice are keeping folks stuck in their situations."

*A UK study by the BMJ2 concluded that suicide rates in the Armed Forces have been lower than in the general population over many decades.


1. MAPPING SERVICE AND TRANSITION TO SELF-HARM AND SUICIDALITY - A Royal Commission into veteran suicide research paper published 18th August 2023. © Commonwealth of Australia 2023 ISBN: 978-1-921241-60-4 (online).Flinders University - Professor Ben Wadham, Associate Professor James Connor Dr Kellie Toole and Professor Emma Thomas

2. Suicide rates in the UK Armed Forces, compared with the general workforce and merchant shipping during peacetime years since 1900

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