As we enter 2023, the Northern Ireland Veterans Commissioner’s Office is once again reaching out to the veteran community to enable access to information, services and organisations. In 2022 the Veterans Commissioner’s Office hosted seven Veteran Information Roadshows in Cookstown, Antrim, Portadown, Coleraine, Newtownards, Enniskillen and Belfast. The purpose of the Roadshows is to provide veterans, living in local areas, access to a safe and friendly environment in which to communicate directly with veteran friendly organisations to find out what help is available to them should they ever need it. With support from over 20 organisations at each Roadshow, veterans can engage with stakeholders on mental health support, employment, benevolence, peer support, activity based pastimes, such as fitness, reading, beekeeping and modelling, to name but a few. We would encourage veterans and their family members to come along and see what is out there for them.
Separately, the Northern Ireland Veterans Commissioner is committed to championing the healthcare needs of veterans. As such the Commissioner’s Office has facilitated an anonymous NI Veterans Health Questionnaire to help identify the critical healthcare needs of veterans living in Northern Ireland. We would ask any veteran living in NI who hasn’t already completed the questionnaire to please do so, to enable a more focussed and proven pathway for the needs of NI veterans. The questionnaire takes 5-10 minutes to complete and is available to complete online at www.nivco.co.uk or paper copies can be requested by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 028 2548 3169.
The Commissioner’s Office, in conjunction with Rainbow Bright Training, is planning, over the coming months, to roll out mental health and suicide awareness training to members of Royal British Legion branches, UDR and Royal Irish Associations. It is the Commissioner’s desire that this training will support us in our goal to reduce isolation and improve mental health outcomes for veterans and their families.
We look forward to continuing our outreach into the veteran community in Northern Ireland and would urge any veteran that is living in need, to reach out to ensure that they are being helped and assisted in every way possible. Working alongside our colleagues in the Northern Ireland Veterans’ Support Office, it is our aim that no veteran should ever feel isolated, alone or without hope. We therefore hope that in 2023 we will help veterans better understand the services and opportunities that are available to them.