Governance and public provision: Tony Wright

Governance and public provision: Tony Wright

Governance and public provision: Tony Wright

Introduction

Service veterans returning to civilian life face a number of challenges that can spiral out of control. The Royal British Legion estimates that between 3-6% of homeless people have an armed forces background. Currently there are 2.5 million veterans in the UK, with military veterans and their families accounting for 5% of the general population.

"I have used the findings of my research to design a service that is both person-centred and needs-led." - Tony Wright, Fellow

Former serviceman Tony Wright (CF 2011) is the founder and CEO of Forward Assist, a charity that provides support and guidance to former servicemen and women who experience difficulties in adjusting to a new life as a civilian. Tony set up Forward Assist as a direct result of his Fellowship and has since developed numerous innovative interventions for veterans struggling to adjust to life after service. These include providing those in need with access to qualified mental health therapists, social workers, probation officers and occupational therapists. Many of Forward Assist’s interventions are now recognised as best practice.

Forward Assist has long campaigned for gender-specific mental health support for women veterans. In 2017, the charity was awarded funding by the Department of Digital, Culture, Media and Sport to develop a specific service for women veterans. The Salute Her programme launched in 2018, identifying significant gaps in services available to women veterans, especially in relation to those women in the military that are at higher risk for exposure to sexual harassment or sexual assault than their male counterparts. Forward Assist has started to fill that gap by providing women-only military sexual trauma support groups, one-to-one trauma informed therapy and consultation sessions, and therapeutic residential retreats.

As an early service leaver, Tony has first-hand knowledge of how difficult it is for former servicemen and women to re-establish themselves back into the civilian community. His Fellowship investigated resettlement and support services for former service personnel in the USA.

Tony says, “Since my Churchill Fellowship, I have used the findings of my research to design a service that is both person-centred and needs-led. I am still in contact with many of the leaders who I met on that life-changing trip. I travel to the USA at least once a year, to research new topics and explore innovative ways to support military veterans on both sides of the Atlantic and use that knowledge to campaign for policy change and equality.”

"I have used the findings of my research to design a service that is both person-centred and needs-led." - Tony Wright, Fellow

Former serviceman Tony Wright (CF 2011) is the founder and CEO of Forward Assist, a charity that provides support and guidance to former servicemen and women who experience difficulties in adjusting to a new life as a civilian. Tony set up Forward Assist as a direct result of his Fellowship and has since developed numerous innovative interventions for veterans struggling to adjust to life after service. These include providing those in need with access to qualified mental health therapists, social workers, probation officers and occupational therapists. Many of Forward Assist’s interventions are now recognised as best practice.

Forward Assist has long campaigned for gender-specific mental health support for women veterans. In 2017, the charity was awarded funding by the Department of Digital, Culture, Media and Sport to develop a specific service for women veterans. The Salute Her programme launched in 2018, identifying significant gaps in services available to women veterans, especially in relation to those women in the military that are at higher risk for exposure to sexual harassment or sexual assault than their male counterparts. Forward Assist has started to fill that gap by providing women-only military sexual trauma support groups, one-to-one trauma informed therapy and consultation sessions, and therapeutic residential retreats.

As an early service leaver, Tony has first-hand knowledge of how difficult it is for former servicemen and women to re-establish themselves back into the civilian community. His Fellowship investigated resettlement and support services for former service personnel in the USA.

Tony says, “Since my Churchill Fellowship, I have used the findings of my research to design a service that is both person-centred and needs-led. I am still in contact with many of the leaders who I met on that life-changing trip. I travel to the USA at least once a year, to research new topics and explore innovative ways to support military veterans on both sides of the Atlantic and use that knowledge to campaign for policy change and equality.”