Caring for injured veterans – a comparison between the US and the UK: what can Ukraine learn?
In a recent mission to Ukraine, a frequent question was about the care pathways for victims of trauma in the US and the UK. However neither the US nor the UK offers a blue print to address the challenges that Ukraine currently faces, but in both countries, systems have evolved to care for the veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan from which valuable insights may be learnt. Remarkable successes have been seen in the arenas of the Invictus games and the ParaOlympics, but huge challenges remain in making support as accessible as possible, and to adapt to the changing needs of veterans as they grow older or for those able to return to work, finding purpose.
The rehabilitation pathway for injured veterans can vary between the UK and the US, but both countries offer various programs and services to support the physical, emotional, and social well-being of their veterans.
In the UK, the National Health Service (NHS) provides medical care and rehabilitation services to veterans. The Veterans UK organization, part of the Ministry of Defence, provides financial support, pensions, and welfare services to veterans. The Ministry of Defence also operates a program called the Armed Forces Compensation Scheme, which provides compensation for injuries or illnesses caused by service. In addition, the Royal British Legion provides a range of services, including financial assistance, employment support, and housing.
In the US, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) provides a wide range of medical, rehabilitative, and support services to eligible veterans. These services include medical care, prosthetics, mental health care, and vocational rehabilitation and employment services. The VA also operates a disability compensation program that provides benefits to veterans who were injured or became ill as a result of their military service. In addition, various nonprofit organizations provide assistance to veterans in areas such as education, housing, and employment.
While there are differences between the rehabilitation pathways for injured veterans in the UK and US, both countries have a strong commitment to supporting their veterans and providing the resources they need to lead fulfilling lives after their service.
The Veterans Places Pathways and People programme in the UK
The Veterans’ Places, Pathways and People (VP3) program in the UK is a government-funded initiative that aims to provide supported accommodation, education, and employment opportunities for veterans who are homeless or at risk of homelessness. The program is delivered by a consortium of military charities and housing providers, including Stoll, The Beacon, and Veterans Aid.
The VP3 program provides a range of services, including accommodation, practical support, and access to education and employment opportunities. Veterans are assigned a case manager who works with them to develop a personalized plan to help them achieve their goals. The program also provides support with issues such as mental health, substance abuse, and financial management.
How successful has the Veterans’ Places, Pathways and People programme been in the UK?
The Veterans’ Places, Pathways and People (VP3) programme in the UK has been successful in providing critical support to homeless and at-risk veterans, helping them to achieve greater stability and independence in their lives.
One of the key measures of success for the VP3 programme is the number of veterans who have been helped. As of 2021, the programme has supported more than 1,000 veterans across the UK. This includes providing housing, employment support, and access to education and training opportunities. The cost of the programme was about £6m.
Another measure of success is the impact that the programme has had on the lives of the veterans it serves. According to a report by the Centre for Social Justice, veterans who participated in the programme were more likely to find permanent accommodation and employment and had better mental health outcomes compared to veterans who did not receive the same level of support. The report also found that the programme was cost-effective, with savings in areas such as health and criminal justice costs.
In addition, the VP3 programme has received positive feedback from the veterans it has served. Many have reported that the support they received through the programme has been life-changing, helping them to rebuild their lives and regain a sense of purpose and direction.
Overall, the VP3 programme has been successful in providing critical support to homeless and at-risk veterans in the UK, helping them to achieve greater stability and independence in their lives.
What could Ukraine learn from these programmes?
There are several lessons that Ukraine could potentially learn from the care pathways in the UK and the US when it comes to supporting its injured veterans.
Some of these lessons include:
1. Providing Comprehensive Support: Both the UK and the US offer comprehensive support for injured veterans, including medical care, rehabilitation services, employment training, and mental health support. Ukraine could learn from this approach and work to establish a similar comprehensive support system for its veterans.
2. Coordinated Care: In both the UK and the US, injured veterans receive care through a coordinated system that involves multiple providers, including the military, the Department of Veterans Affairs, and civilian healthcare providers. Ukraine could work to establish a similar coordinated care system that ensures veterans receive the support they need from all relevant providers.
3. Long-term Support: The UK and the US provide long-term support for injured veterans, recognizing that their needs may change over time. Ukraine could learn from this approach and work to establish long-term support programs that ensure injured veterans have access to the support they need for as long as they need it.
4. Research and Innovation: Both the UK and the US invest heavily in research and innovation to improve care for injured veterans. Ukraine could learn from this approach and invest in research and innovation to improve its care pathways and ensure that veterans receive the best possible care.
5. Public Awareness: Both the UK and the US have made significant efforts to raise public awareness about the needs of injured veterans and the support available to them. Ukraine could learn from this approach and work to increase public awareness about the needs of its veterans and the support available to them.
Overall, Ukraine could potentially benefit from adopting some of the strategies and approaches used in the UK and the US to support its injured veterans. However, it's important to note that every country's situation is unique, and it will be necessary to tailor these approaches to Ukraine's specific needs and context. In Ukraine's case the scale of the challenge is so much greater and resources so stretched that it will require innovative thinking and bold ideas to ensure even the most basic needs are as accessible as possible.