Ulster University has secured over £355,000 of funding for a landmark study into the support and services available to armed forces veterans and their families living in Northern Ireland.
It is the first time any such research into Northern Ireland's veteran community and the services available to them will have taken place.
The funding will be provided by the Forces in Mind Trust (FiMT), and was secured through close collaboration with the Northern Ireland Veteran Support Committee (NIVSC) which comprises the leading service charities, is facilitated by the Reserve Forces and Cadets Association (RFCA), and is supported by the Ministry of Defence (MOD).
Northern Ireland is believed to have a large and varied veteran community including those spanning several generations, and those who may have served worldwide for the Army, Navy or RAF before returning home to Northern Ireland with their families. The types of support to be reviewed will include access to healthcare, managing finances, and access to mental health professionals.
The three year project has several aims including: reviewing service availability for those in the veteran community; increasing the general awareness of service availability; determining the size of the veteran community in Northern Ireland; identifying the future needs of military personnel transitioning to civilian life, and making recommendations where necessary that could improve access to more tailored support and guidance.
Ulster University psychologist Dr Cherie Armour, has extensive experience of researching military and veteran issues in countries including Denmark, the US, and Canada.
Dr Armour said: "For the first time, we will be able to develop a full understanding of services available to Northern Ireland based veterans and their families and use that information to help safeguard their wellbeing by providing easy access to the right support, now and in the future.
Dr Armour added: "Securing this major grant is a significant endorsement of the outstanding quality of Ulster University research. It provides a real opportunity to look at the specific needs of veterans here, how these needs are being met by service providers, and how veteran specific services communicate with each other - and with organisations such as the National Health Service and the MOD.
"We look forward to working with veteran organisations and the veteran community across Northern Ireland and I would encourage veterans and their families to contribute where relevant in the strictest of confidence so that we can ensure this research can have maximum impact."
Anyone wishing to contribute to this research in confidence should contact Dr Cherie Armour at Ulster University via email on firstname.lastname@example.org