Today, on November 30 Scotland celebrates St Andrew’s Day. This National day is marked with festivities of Scottish culture, including traditional dance, food and music. On a day where the region recognises the Best of Scottish, the Defence Medical Welfare Service (DMWS) would like to highlight the fantastic work our Welfare Officers do in the area. DMWS is an independent charity providing medical welfare support to the Armed Forces Community since 1943. Our Welfare Officers are drawn from a wide variety of backgrounds including health professionals, dependants and former military personnel with welfare experience.

With an estimated 241,000 veterans living in Scotland and about 17,000 MOD Personnel stationed in Scotland our service is strategically well based. Our Welfare Officers look after hundreds of cases each year which shows just how much their work is needed and appreciated.  

DMWS Welfare Officers assist veterans and serving soldiers with practical and emotional support when they are following a medical care pathway. For example, ill or injured Serving Armed Forces personnel may benefit from the Welfare Officer liaising between their workplace, the NHS, and other service providers. The support is extended to family members when needed. Practical help is provided by signposting and referring patients to other statutory, voluntary and community organisations and services.

The work with veterans may include liaising with other support agencies and local authorities to prevent or overcome homelessness, pointing them to other organisations if they suffer from a mental health issue or addiction to visiting them in hospital and providing a confidential and impartial “Listening Ear”.

Here are just two accounts of how DMWS Welfare Officer Marie Crombie helped Veterans Graham and Robin.

GrahamGraham’s story:

Marie met Graham when he was homeless and in hospital. He had lived within Whitefoord House for 13 years which is run by the Scottish Veterans Residences. Due to Graham’s long term alcohol and drug abuse along with an ongoing kidney problem he needed alternative, more suitable accommodation. Marie provided Graham emotional support and guidance as he had no friends or family that could help him. She also assisted Graham by supporting his application for sheltered housing and help with all the financial paperwork by referring over to ASAP (Armed Services Advice project) who are attached to CAB (Citizens Advice Bureau) and SSAFA (Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Families Association). SSAFA where able to provide funding for removal costs as he needed help with packing his belongings and transferring them to his new home. They also funded his furniture as he did not have any. Graham is now living independently within the community and managing his finances with assistance from a link support worker.

Robin’s story:

Robin had been in hospital for many weeks with blood clotting and liver issues and his condition was not improving. Whitefoord House made contact with DMWS Welfare Officer Marie Crombie asking to support him as it was uncertain whether Robin could return to Whitefoord House due to his medical condition. Marie offered emotional support to Robin and liaised between the Hospital and Whitefoord House ensuring Robin could return home with an suitable care package in place. Robin had surgery which is helping him to live independently in Whitefoord House where he feels secure and has people around him he knows. With an uncertain future Marie is pleased to have supported Robin who has recently managed to visit his grandchild in London for the first time.

Marie said:
“It is great to give something back to those people who serve and have served our country. Being in a position to help them get better and support them to lead an independent life again is so fulfilling.”

We are very fortunate to be able to work closely with other organisations such as Poppy Scotland, Veteran’s First Point, Combat Stress and Vocal  to name but a few. Together we can extend out support network to a lot of areas where help is needed.

 If you would like to find out more about our service and how we can help please visit: www.dmws.org.uk

And if you would like to support our course and want to help other veterans like Graham and Robin, please visit our donate page