Working effectively with veterans and their families

23 May



May 23, 2019 - 9:30 am


May 23, 2019 - 3:45 pm


Aston University, The Aston Triangle, Birmingham, B4 7ET   View map

All services come into contact with veterans and their families, but may not know how to tailor their response in order to provide services more effectively, to be proactive in encouraging veterans to engage, or which specialist services are available to refer individuals on to.

The veteran population of the UK is large, around 6 million people, and overwhelmingly male. Most veterans are able to forge a new civilian life without support from services. But some veterans leave the armed forces with problems, or struggle to cope with aspects of civilian life. How can services be aware of, and target, those individuals likely to be most in need of support?

Almost half of veterans are over 75 and more likely to be living alone than the equivalent mainstream population. The needs of this increasingly isolated group form one significant area of concern.

The other area of particular concern is Early Service Leavers, those who have less than five years’ service and have been discharged early either voluntarily or for disciplinary infringements. This group is typically of junior rank, has had a combat role, and will receive a minimum resettlement allowance. This is the group most likely to experience problems finding civilian work, mental health problems, substance misuse issues, relationship breakdown, and to continue into homelessness, criminal activity, or to attempt suicide.

Early Service Leavers are also more likely to have risk factors relating to their pre-service life, such as low levels of education. Excessive use of alcohol is significantly more common among this group while in service. Factors like stigma are likely to prevent their accessing help for problems, leading them to self-medicate with alcohol or drugs instead. Veterans are also more likely than the average population to be serving long prison sentences for violent offences.

While homelessness among veterans has actually decreased sharply over the last 20 years, veterans are more likely to experience multiple exclusion homelessness, meaning they live rough longer and seek help later than average.


Families sometimes struggle to cope with the reintegration of veterans into family life and wider society, just as veterans may struggle to fit into a family routine which does not normally include them. However, spouses can also be key to persuading veterans to seek help.

Working effectively with veterans and their families will be facilitated by Diane Palmer, who has extensive experience in direct work with veterans, and in strategic planning and setting up services to better meet their needs.

The day is suitable for all service providers and aims to unpick the issues affecting veterans. It will provide a clearer insight into who veterans are, what different groups are likely to have experienced, and how this is likely to affect their relationships with families and with wider society. With the use of case studies, Diane will suggest approaches to working with veterans, some do’s and don’ts, and will outline the structure of services which exist to support veterans.

Diane Palmer is a qualified nurse, social worker and therapist who has specialised in veterans’ health. She is now an independent mental health specialist.

She co-founded the North Essex Veterans Mental Health Network which led to funding from the Department of Health to set up a specialist mental health service in the NHS for veterans.

Diane is a clinical member of the NHS East National Armed Forces Health Clinical Reference Group, the NHS East Mental Health Working Group, co-chairs the National Veterans Mental Health Network for NHS East, a clinical member of the national Mental Health Crisis Care Concordat, the East of England Clinical Senate (the military and civilian partnership board) and sits on the executive board of Anglia Ruskin University Veterans and Families Institute for Social Research.

Diane is the National Director for Valiant Care Group which she cofounded 3 years ago. Valiant Care Group is a private healthcare provider which is currently building the UK’s first dedicated occupational trauma hospital for high risk mental health patients whose conditions stem from exposure to traumatic events at work.

She has won national awards for her work on mental health services for veterans, including the National Military and Civilian Health Partnership Award in 2013, and the National Royal College of Nursing Award for Mental Health in 2014.

Marianna Odysseos is a Consultant Clinical Psychologist with more than 20 years experience working in the field of trauma and with over 10 years working with military and Veterans population.

After graduating in 1998 in South Africa, Marianna set up in Private Practice, specialising in working with children and families who had survived hijacking and rape. In 2000 she moved to the UK and was appointed in a specialist unit working with Looked after Children whose foster placements were at risk of breakdown. She worked there for 10 years developing psychological services for children and their carers, as well as working with adoption breakdowns. In 2004, she influenced expansion of the service to include provision of Expert reports for the courts and assessments of families in need. In 2009, Marianna was employed part-time with the MoD specifically to work with traumatised soldiers returning from deployment in Afghanistan. During this time , she was also appointed as Clinical Lead in developing and setting up an evidence-based service for patients referred to the Pain Clinic in Broomfield Hospital. Thereafter she moved into a full time post working in military mental health.

Marianna has a specialist interest in developing services looking at transitions and the impact of separation, loss as well as resilience of the children and families of serving personal and Veterans. She was the Deputy Chair of the North Essex Veterans Mental Health Network (NEVMHN), and sat on the board of the UKPTS (UK Psychological Trauma Society), and has been actively involved in setting up, promoting and developing services for Veterans and their families. She has been a guest speaker at several conferences and has lectured and lectures at both Hertfordshire University and the University of Essex on Attachment Theory and Complex Trauma from a developmental perspective. She is a member of the British Psychological Society and is registered with HPC.


Agenda (subject to change)

9.30 – 10.00

Registration and coffee

10.00 – 10.20

Welcome and introduction to the day

10.20 – 10.50

Understanding our armed forces

  • what do they do?
  • why do people join and why do they leave?

10.50 – 11.20

Attachment theory and a sense of belonging

11.20 – 11.40

Coffee break

11.40 – 12.00

Common mental health and physical health conditions arising from service

12.00 – 12.40

Seeking help

  • what the Ministry of Defence offers
  • barriers to seeking help
  • medical discharge

12.40 – 1.30


1.30 – 2.15

The transition to civilian life

  • negotiating the gap between civilian and military language and culture
  • the Armed Forces Covenant
  • emerging needs of veterans, including PTSD
  • co-morbidity – anger, alcohol, chronic pain

2.15 – 2.45

Recognising and addressing veterans’ needs

  • NHS specific services and initiatives
  • Wider services – recognising veterans with unmet needs, and how to respond
  • An approach to working with veterans

2.45– 2.55

Quick refreshment break

2.55 – 3.45

Supporting military families

  • Recognising need in veterans’ families
  • Building trust
  • Offering meaningful support


Final questions and close of day

  • Adult services
  • Children’s and families’ services
  • Schools – especially Parent Support Workers
  • Community health services
  • Mental health services
  • Substance misuse services
  • Domestic abuse services
  • Housing services
  • Homeless support services
  • Criminal justice system – police, probation, prison
  • Leisure and sports services
  • Organisations supporting vulnerable people

The training will take place in Birmingham City Centre:

Conference Aston Meeting Suites

Aston University,

The Aston Triangle,


B4 7ET

Venue telephone – 0121 204 4300

New Street, Snow Hill and Moor Street train stations are all within 20 minutes walk of the venue or a 5 minute taxi journey.

Car parking and direction information

Follow this link for a downloadable map, directions and car park information:

There are pay and display car parks on-site but spaces must be booked in advance – follow the link above to do this.


 There is a hotel on-site in the Aston Business School

Follow this link for costs, details of rooms and booking information:

Delegate fee:

 £130 + VAT = £156

£325 + VAT = £390 for group of 3 (non cancellable)

£520 + VAT = £624 for group of 5 (non cancellable)

ring 0115 916 3104 for details.


Included in the delegate package:

  • Delegate pack
  • Lunch
  • Refreshments available throughout the day


Booking Terms and Conditions

Cancellations received up to and including 2 May 2019 will be refunded in full less an administration fee of 25%. Cancellations received after this date will be liable for payment in full.

*Team bookings must be booked on the same form and are non-cancellable but substitute delegates will always be accepted.

The full invoice amount will remain payable if you fail to attend the event, however, substitute delegates will be accepted up until, and including, the day of the event.



Confirmation of booking:

Your booking will be confirmed by email where possible (and by fax or post otherwise), and you will be provided with directions to the venue and details on nearby hotel accommodation. If you do not receive such acknowledgement, please contact Central Conference Consultants Ltd on 0115 916 3104.