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13 June 2020

New study launched to understand the impact of COVID-19 on veterans

Researchers from King’s College London have launched a new study to assess the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on former military service personnel.

New study launched to understand the impact of COVID-19 on veterans

Led by the King’s Centre for Military Health Research (KCMHR) and sponsored by the Office for Veterans Affairs (OVA) the Veterans CHECK study will look at how COVID-19 is affecting the veterans community in the UK.

The COVID-19 pandemic is a unique and challenging situation, creating uncertainty for many and requiring people to make enormous changes to how they live their lives. In order to understand the impact of the pandemic on veterans the research will investigate their current health and well-being and how different aspects of their physical and mental health have changed since they last took part in the KCHMR Health and Well-being Cohort Study. It will also seek to compare the experiences of ex-serving personnel during the pandemic with people from other groups in the population.

Researchers will approach those veterans living in the UK who took part in the KCMHR Health and Well-being study from 2014 to 2016. This study forms part of a unique cohort of 20,000 former service personnel that was originally created in 2003 to monitor the mental health and social consequences of deployment.

The COVID-19 pandemic presents many new challenges for us all, including the Armed Forces community. We believe it is important to “check in” with our veterans, so that we can understand their current needs as well as the ways their previous service may have equipped them for such crises.

Co-Director of the KCMHR, King’s College London, Professor Nicola Fear

She continues, ‘This research will be vital for Government, and the wider Armed Forces sector to ensure the veterans community are supported and those who need help, get the help they need.’

Through an online survey, researchers will collect data on loneliness, social support, alcohol consumption, mental health, and general well-being. It will also explore the resilience of veterans and whether their experiences in the armed forces have perhaps better prepared them for the unprecedented circumstances of the COVID-19 pandemic.

This study has been measuring the health and well-being of a large sample of our Armed Forces, starting in 2003. We have followed their progress, some for nearly 20 years, through service in conflicts such as Iraq and Afghanistan, and then as many returned to civilian life. Now it is time to see how they are coping with a different challenge, that of COVID-19.

Co-Director of the KCMHR, King’s College London, Professor Sir Simon Wessely

The results of the study will be available in Autumn/Winter 2020 and will allow policy makers to understand potential issues affecting the veterans community with the aim of helping to ensure that people get the support they need. The work is sponsored by the Office for Veterans Affairs (OVA).

Minister for Defence People and Veterans Johnny Mercer said: ‘We have seen a great contribution from veterans during the pandemic; from the amazing Captain Sir Tom Moore, to all those who have volunteered in their communities.

‘It is important that we understand the effect of this terrible pandemic on the veteran community too, so we can provide effective support, tailored to their needs. This new study is an important part of that.’

Starting on Monday 15 June 2020 researchers from KCMHR will be emailing UK veterans who participated in the last KCMHR health and well-being study (2014-2016). More information can be found at the Veterans CHECK study website.

Contact: For interviews or any further media information, please contact: Franca Davenport, Interim Senior Press Officer, IoPPN: / +44 7718 697176

In this story

Nicola Fear

Professor of Epidemiology

Simon Wessely

Regius Professor of Psychiatry