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Published: 18 September 2023

Proud to be improving lives

Mum-of-six Steph Cooper understands exactly the difficulties and challenges veterans face – because she comes from a military family.

The Operational Manager for East Sussex School Health Service, Steph Cooper, is just one of KCHFT’s army of people helping to provide better support to veterans, as well as encouraging them to join the NHS.

With hugely transferrable skills, veterans not only bring a wealth of experience, but can help improve the care we provide to our communities.

And this work is paying off.

Since signing the Armed Forces Covenant last year, we’ve achieved both bronze and silver status in the Defence Employer Recognition Scheme (DERS) and been given the Veteran Aware stamp of approval.

Steph, 47, met her husband while he was in service as part of the Household Cavalry in the Life Guards regiment. She has used her experience to help her colleagues understand the importance of asking the right questions to make sure armed forces families have access to all the care, support and treatment available.

She said: “Many people do not realise the impact of being in a military family. Children can be affected by being moved around or the absence of a parent. When leaving the military, the family go from having their medical, housing, dental and other needs looked after to going to a number of providers across the NHS. By closer working with the armed forces, we can make sure they are able to reach out and get the help they need once they are back to civilian living.”

Emmie-Lou, Martyn, William, Luke, Tiggy, Steph - pass out from Welbeck Sixth Form College

Five of Steph’s children have followed in their father’s footsteps and are either in the military, cadets or working in the Ministry of Defence. Proudly, Steph’s eldest daughter has just qualified as a children’s nurse.

It’s this personal experience that Steph draws from to support her NHS colleagues’ transition from military to KCHFT in her role as vice-chair of our Armed Forces Staff Network.

She said: “Working in the military, you pick up a great deal of transferable

skills that are hugely beneficial to the NHS. By becoming Veteran Aware, we have shown we recognise that and have put in place ways to support applicants to show exactly what they’re capable of, beyond qualifications.”

Reservists at KCHFT now receive five days leave to carry out additional training, veterans are guaranteed an interview and we’ve created guidelines to support our colleagues who are closely connected to the military.

Are you a veteran? Here’s why you should tell us

Officially anyone who has served for at least one day in His Majesty’s Armed Forces (regular or reserve) is considered a veteran. However, not everyone who has served in the British Armed Forces thinks of themselves as a veteran, so asking in the right way is important.

Many veterans do not realise the support available to them and their families. By telling us, we can help signpost people to the most appropriate help.

Take a look at our vacancies to join #TeamKCHFT.

Silver employer recognition status logo Veteran Aware logo