AS the nation gears up to mark Armed Forces Day (Saturday, June 26), Greater Manchester Mental Health NHS Foundation Trust (GMMH) is delighted to announce it has been awarded Veteran Aware accreditation and can now display the VA Kitemark.

GMMH has been named a Veteran Aware Trust in recognition of its commitment to improving NHS care for veterans, reservists, members of the armed forces and their families.

The accreditation, from the Veterans Covenant Healthcare Alliance (VC HA), acknowledges the Trust’s commitment to a number of key pledges, including:

Ensuring that the armed forces community is never disadvantaged compared to other patients, in line with the NHS’s commitment to the Armed Forces Covenant.

Training relevant staff on veteran specific culture or needs;

Making veterans, reservists and service families aware of appropriate charities or NHS services beneficial to them, such as mental health services or support with financial and/or benefit claims;

Supporting the armed forces as an employer

The Prestwich-based GMMH is now one of 75 members of the VC HA and is part of a growing number of NHS trusts gaining this accolade.

Chief executive of GMMH, Neil Thwaite, said: “It is a great honour to be named as a Veteran Aware Trust and to be recognised for our work to help service personnel, past and present, particularly ahead of the nationwide celebrations to show support for the men and women who make up the Armed Forces community.

“A number of our staff are veterans and we already provide mental health services for military veterans in Cheshire and Merseyside. This helps give us a real insight into how we can tailor our care to best suit the needs of our veterans, armed forces personnel and their families.

“We are extremely proud to support our veterans and to be acknowledged as a Veteran Aware Trust. We will continue to work closely with the VC HA to ensure we uphold the NHS’s commitment to support the Armed Forces community.”

Trusts recognised as Veteran Aware will display posters in their clinics and public waiting areas urging anyone who has served in the armed forces to make themselves known to staff.

The VC HA was inspired by the heroism of Captain Noel Godfrey Chavasse VC, a doctor who gave his life rescuing men on the battlefields of the First World War.

In 2014, leading orthopaedic surgeon Professor Tim Briggs CBE wrote The Chavasse Report on improving armed forces and veteran care while raising NHS standards, which recommended establishing a support network of hospitals. The resulting VC HA works closely with NHS England and NHS Improvement, service charities and the Ministry of Defence.

Professor Briggs, NHS National Director for Clinical Improvement and co-chair of the VC HA, said: “These trusts should be very proud of the commitment they have made to the service men and women of this country. Welcoming them into the Veterans Covenant Hospital Alliance is a major step towards our aim of ensuring every NHS trust in the country is Veteran Aware.”

General Lord Richard Dannatt, Patron of the VC HA and former head of the British Army, said: “Although the British Armed Forces are not currently engaged in high profile campaigns such as in Iraq and Afghanistan in recent years, the health and wellbeing battles for many veterans continue. The VC HA is playing a major part in helping our brave veterans win their personal battles.”