Looking after our Armed Forces

There is strong commitment to maintaining the overall health and wellbeing of service personnel - even after they have left the services.


If you are in the services and have health issues then you should be able to find out from this Q&A where to get help. Note, some of the commitments described do not relate to the whole of the UK because healthcare legislation and policy may differ in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Serious injuries and conditions

What is the Ministry of Defence doing to help seriously injured service personnel?

  • If you have been seriously injured as a result of your service and have prosthetic limbs when you are discharged from the Armed Forces you should continue to receive the same standard of care provided by Defence Medical Services when accessing NHS care.
  • We are spending more than £45 million on the development of Recovery Pathways for each service and on the Defence Recovery Capability. It is designed to help sick and injured service personnel get back into civilian or service life.
  • Most day-to-day healthcare is provided at military primary healthcare centres backed up by 15 Regional Rehabilitation Units located in military establishments in the UK and Germany.

What happens when I leave service and need access to the NHS?

  • If you have a medical condition as a result of your time in service, you should be able to receive priority NHS treatment appropriate to your needs and condition. Therefore you need to tell your doctor you are a veteran to make sure you receive such priority treatment (which is subject to the clinical needs of others).
  • You should expect a smooth transition from military care into NHS medical care as you return to civilian life.
  • For injured service people, this is assisted by the MOD through its Personnel Recovery Centres which bring together the NHS, the Armed Forces, charities and others at a local level.

What should I do if I am worried about my mental health?

  • If you are worried you should seek professional advice as soon as possible. Talk to your GP as many areas have veteran-focused services.
  • The MOD, along with other charities and the Department of Health has a great deal of information, support and advice for people suffering mental healthcare issues.

Accessing healthcare

How does the MOD help my family access healthcare when we are all posted overseas?

  • When overseas, the family of a serving person normally receives the same access to medical and dental care. The Department of Health has produced a useful leaflet on healthcare for the Armed Forces and their families.

When I move location for my job, will my family and I lose our place on NHS waiting lists?

  • Service families should not lose their place on NHS waiting lists when they move as a result of an assignment. If you or a member of your family are on a waiting list for treatment and are due to be reassigned it is very important that you tell your doctor that you are a member of the Armed Forces community.
  • If you are undergoing IVF treatment and are due to be posted you can also ask your chain of command to take note of your IVF treatment cycles. While we can’t guarantee you won’t be moved for operational reasons, in most circumstances the department can look favourably on your case.

Support services

I was injured in service - what compensation can I apply for?

  • If you were injured in service you may be able to access compensation payments under the War Pension Scheme and the Armed Forces Compensation Scheme. For further advice please see pension and compensation schemes for the Armed Forces, veterans and their families.
  • The first £10 per week of those payments does not affect your entitlement to income-related benefits, Housing Benefit or Council Tax Benefit. This is in recognition that your injuries arose from serving in the Armed Forces. Where housing and council tax benefits are concerned, your local authority has the discretion to disregard more than £10 per week of your compensation payments.

I was injured in service - what transport concessions are there for me?

  • If needed you will be able to join the Blue Badge Scheme more easily because your Service Medical Summary will be used to confirm your entitlement.
  • The Department for Transport is introducing new guidance in England so that seriously injured veterans will receive concessionary bus travel without going through more assessments. Northern Ireland and Scotland already have special arrangements for veterans and the Welsh government is in discussion with local authorities about bus travel.

What support does the MOD provide for bereaved families?

  • Each of the services provides support to the next of kin and emergency contacts of deceased, missing and injured service personnel, initially though visiting officers.
  • Cruse Bereavement offers comfort and counsel for grieving Armed Forces families.
  • The Independent Inquest Advice Service is run by the Royal British Legion and jointly funded by the MOD. It offers support to grieving families who are faced with the prospect of an inquest.
  • The Defence Inquests Unit manages all inquests into the deaths of service and MOD personnel who die as a result of injuries sustained during operations and training.
  • Bereaved families can stay in service accommodation for up to two years after bereavement.
  • Any resettlement entitlement a service person would have received is passed on to the bereaved spouse or civil partner.
  • The Bereaved Scholarship Fund provides university and further education scholarships to children of service personnel who dies on active duty since 1990.

What support is there for service personnel transitioning to civilian life?

  • MOD offers help in finding a new job, housing and healthcare.
  • It is developing a better resettlement programme for early service leavers who leave the Forces after less than 4 years to help them get into employment or training.
  • You should expect a smooth transition from military medical care into NHS medical care as you return to civilian life. This is helped by the Regional Armed Forces Networks which bring together the NHS, the Armed Forces and charities.

DoH healthcare for Armed Forces

This file may not be suitable for users of assistive technology.

Request an accessible format.
If you use assistive technology (such as a screen reader) and need a version of this document in a more accessible format, please email Please tell us what format you need. It will help us if you say what assistive technology you use.

Published 12 December 2012