Institute is first of its kind in the country

Published: 27 March 2014 at 11:37

One fifth of the population may benefit from collaboration on veterans and their families’ needs

Britain’s Armed Forces will be strengthened by a pioneering support network for veterans and their families, according to former Chief of General Staff General Lord Richard Dannatt.

Anglia Ruskin University’s Veterans and Families Institute (VFI) is the first in the country to focus on researching the needs of the families of former military personnel, lobby Government for change and bring together the country’s foremost experts in the mental health and social care of ex-Forces members and their loved ones.

The Institute’s patron, Falklands War hero Simon Weston OBE and veteran Phil Packer MBE, ambassador for the VFI, will champion a two-day event to launch the Institute next month. Expert speakers will address a conference on 16 April, open to members of the public. The following day will be a networking event to bring together leading researchers.

The conference will be followed in the evening with a formal launch of the Institute. General Lord Richard Dannatt, former Chief of General Staff, will provide the official opening and presentations will be given by Surgeon Captain John Sharpley, Defence Consultant Advisor in Psychiatry, and Mr Packer, honorary CEO and founder of the British Inspiration Trust.

General Dannatt, Honorary Doctor of Technology at Anglia Ruskin, said:

“Knowing that the families are being well looked after and that service people will be properly cared for as veterans - whether young, old or injured - is hugely important to the determination and will to succeed of every soldier, sailor, airman or marine.
“The Anglia Ruskin University Veterans and Families Institute will therefore be a major contribution to the overall fighting effectiveness and military capability of Britain’s Armed Forces.”

Patron Simon Weston OBE said:

“The formation of the Veterans and Families Institute by Anglia Ruskin University is an excellent initiative and I commend it thoroughly.”

Simon Burns, MP for Chelmsford, will open the conference. Confirmed speakers and subjects are:

  • Professor Neil Greenberg: From serving to civvy – the mental health status and care needs of veterans
  • Professor Edgar Jones: Veterans and transition: The experience of World Wars I and II
  • Professor Sidney Irvine: Exploring psychology for veterans – a seven-point compass
  • Dr David Jackson and Kevin Spruce: Transition – living in an alien world
  • Dr Tony Pollard: Mapping Memories – Conflict archaeology as a potential medium for trauma therapy in veterans
  • Professor Susan Klein: Veterans’ mental health and social care – an overview from a Scottish perspective
  • Dr Neil Kitchiner: A long journey from 8 Broomfield Drive to 203 Camp Bastion
  • Dr Nicola Fear: Risk-taking and related behaviours among military personnel and veterans.

Members of the audience will also be able to put questions to the panel after the presentations are over.

On the second day, more than two-thirds of the 40 universities currently involved in veterans research will be represented as the Veterans and Families Institute sets out to collate the foremost ideas from thinkers across the UK. It will be the first time the leading researchers in the field have come together and shared ideas both on veterans’ mental health and social care and the pressure on their families as part of a new UK-wide academic network called VETERAN.

Professor Jamie Hacker Hughes, co-director of the Veterans and Families Institute at Anglia Ruskin, said:

“There are estimated to be some six million military veterans from all three armed services in the UK, with lengths of service varying anywhere between the completion of one day’s training to full 20- to 30-year careers embracing several operational tours. When you take into account the number of dependents and families, that figure is doubled to represent nearly one fifth of the UK population.
“The Veterans and Families Institute at Anglia Ruskin University has been founded specifically to research the needs of this unique group in order to inform and influence policy, encourage collaboration amongst researchers in this field and to be a much-needed additional resource to military veterans, their families and the services and charities that support them.”

Places are still available for the conference, which will be held at Anglia Ruskin’s Chelmsford campus between 9.30am and 4.30pm on 16 April. Places cost £15 for students and £125 for all others. A charity rate is available for £50.

Media are invited to attend the launch event at 6pm on 16 April in the Lord Ashcroft Building at the Chelmsford campus.