West London NHS Trust is working towards the Armed Forces Covenant to show our commitment as an organisation towards our Armed Forces communities and UK Armed Forces veterans.
This page will tell you about work the Trust is doing via its Armed Forces Staff Network to provide employment opportunities, care and treatment and equality initiatives for veterans, their families and anyone with a connection or interest in the Armed Forces.
Our aim is to ensure that all our workforce policies are Armed Forces friendly and that our staff support offers, recognising and meeting the needs of our ex-forces and reservist colleagues.
For Trust staff who want to find out more about our Armed Forces Staff Network please contact email@example.com.
Op COURAGE is an NHS mental health specialist service designed to help serving personnel due to leave the military, reservists, armed forces veterans and their families.
Op COURAGE can help you and your family with a range of support and treatment, including:
- supporting you with intensive emergency care and treatment if you’re in a crisis
- helping you transition from military to civilian life by providing mental health care with Defence Medical Services (DMS)
- supporting armed forces families affected by mental health problems, including helping you access local services
- helping you recognise and treat early signs of mental health problems as well as more advanced mental health conditions and psychological trauma
- helping you to access other NHS mental health services if you need them, such as finding an NHS talking therapies service and eating disorder services
- helping you get in touch with charities and local organisations who can support your wider health and wellbeing needs, such as housing, relationships, finances, employment, drug and alcohol misuse and social support
Everyone at Op COURAGE is either from the armed forces community or is experienced in working with serving personnel, reservists, veterans and their families.
They understand military life and the courage it takes to speak with someone. They will work with you to make sure you get the right type of specialist care, support and treatment.
To receive help and support from Op COURAGE, you must:
- be a resident in England and have served in the UK armed forces for a full day
- be registered with a GP practice in England or be willing and eligible to register with a GP
- provide your military service number
It does not matter how long ago you left the armed forces. You can contact Op COURAGE even if you left many years ago.
You can also contact Op COURAGE if you are still serving but have a discharge date.
Contacting Op COURAGE
You can contact the service in many ways, including:
- directly getting in touch yourself, or through a family member or friend
- asking a GP to refer you
- asking a charity to refer you.
The service will arrange for you to have an assessment, to make sure you get the right care and support.
It is important to contact the Op COURAGE for your local area.
If you’re in London, please call 020 3317 6818 or email firstname.lastname@example.org (includes the Op COURAGE urgent care and support service).
Read about our ex-service colleague, Linda, who joined the NHS after serving in the army.
Linda Stradins is Head of Planned Care in Ealing Community Partners.
Before working for the Trust she trained in the Army’s medical services school of nursing.
She worked as an RGN (general nurse) and later a RMN (mental health nurse).
She said: "Having worked as a general nurse with people who had injuries, but who had also experienced significant traumas it was important to me to try to support them emotionally as well as physically, hence I trained as a mental health nurse.
"As a general nurse I also worked in a Burns and Plastics Unit and had experiences of working with soldiers who had served in the Falklands and Northern Ireland."
Linda served a total of 12 and a half years in the armed forces, including five years as an officer on a short service commission and abroad in both Germany and Hong Kong.
She added: "Being in the Army taught me to be resilient, adaptable and flexible as well as to value others, regardless of their backgrounds. Moving from one area, and indeed country to the next meant that I had to make new friends and acquaintances, many of whom I am still in touch with today."
She said she would encourage anyone from the armed forces who is thinking of joining the NHS to be proud of their work and think about the similarities as well as the differences.
She said: "My fantasy was that everything would be different and that it would be difficult for me to fit in.
"The opposite was true; having secured the role of a CPN in central London the similarities in roles quickly became apparent.
"I was used to dealing with a wide range of people in distress, who are frightened and where there is a large degree of uncertainty."
She added: "I am proud to be part of an organisation that has signed up to the Armed Forces Covenant."