This Saturday, 27th June is Armed Forces Day, an annual event to commemorate the service of men and women in the British Armed Forces.

To mark the event, YSS has gathered some of the personal experiences of those involved in working with and supporting military veterans, volunteers, including veterans themselves: 

Remember Veterans Volunteer, Kyle Toolan:

"The difference with being a veteran is that non veterans will never understand the challenges you face when returning to the real world and this gives you a sense of isolation. I miss being able to talk about my experiences with like minded people who appreciate what you have achieved. As a veteran, I get a real buzz out of helping service charities like YSS because I can be the empathetic person that the service user needs to talk to, having shared many of their experiences, and that gives me a renewed sense of purpose."

YSS Director, Debb Grantham:

"Whilst I never served myself, my whole life has been linked to the Armed Forces. I was born in BMH Hostert, Germany as my dad was in the Army and went on to live in nine different military houses and attended seven different schools – all before I was 18. I then met my husband, fresh out of the Army School of Catering and went on to spend 22 years accompanying him around the world. Meanwhile, my three brothers all joined the Navy. You can imagine the healthy conversations that take place during the Army V Navy matches!

I always knew I wanted to link my criminal justice role in YSS with my deep rooted passion to make a difference to the lives of serving, ex-armed forces personnel and their families. I am incredibly proud of the work we undertake through Remember Veterans and believe we embody the promise made by the nation to ensure that those who serve or who have served in the armed forces, and their families, are treated fairly; including those veterans who have had links to the criminal justice system."

Lisa Burnett, Senior Remember Veterans Link Worker:

"Some of my fondest memories whilst serving & as a Veteran are my bad perm and blue eyeshadow fashion faux pas which to this day, is something my fellow WRAC friends and Basic Training roomies rib me for! I did look pretty horrendous to be fair!

My other memories are being in the Falklands during the live feed 25th Anniversary, I met some amazing people who served during the Falkland’s War and visited many sights of the conflict but also playing Dandini in Cinderella whilst serving out there. I would walk around Stanley and the locals would shout out “ Oi hello Dandini!” I was…. almost famous!

During my time in the Army, I became a Military Ski Instructor in Bavaria, I spent many seasons teaching Soldiers and towards the end of my time in the services and for several years after I then became an Adaptive Ski & Sports Instructor for our Wounded, Injured and Sick service personnel, the Adaptive skiing was the highlight of my 22nd Year."

A YSS Remember Veterans client:

"I remember my two days initiation, all training personnel were really nice and I got accepted in to the Army. When I started basic training at Guildford I got off the train and was met by an NCO I knew. I said, 'Hi, mate how you doing', he replied, 'Mate? Mate? You're in the bloody Army! Now get on that bus! I never moved so fast! Small world, the Army."

Gemma, Age UK H&W Veterans Service:

“I love my job -  supporting older veterans and their families is an absolute privilege, every day’s a school day and we meet the most amazing individuals!"

Ash, Veteran and DMWS Welfare Officer:

"I have many great memories of my time in the Armed Forces, one of the most memorable is representing the Army at the inter services ski championships, proving the ethos of 'work hard, play hard'.”

Kate Christopher, YSS Remember Veterans Keyworker

One of my best memories is skiing in Bavaria, spending the day on the slopes - it was like one big party and I had the best time. I also remember an exercise sharp point in Kenya: as medics we got sent there every year to provide medical aid to Kenyans in the bush. It was so rewarding and very humbling. Whilst there we also got to go on safari to see the most amazing animals on the planet.

Sarah Kerr, Shropshire Council Forces Outreach Coordinator

I served for 10 years as QARANC and do not regret one moment, if anything I regret not serving for longer. I was fortunate to do part of my nurse training at the Royal Hospital Chelsea which was an amazing experience, and very humbling to have looked after some amazing gentlemen.

I was also lucky to be posted to Hong Kong and whilst there I decided to do a Parachute Course, we had a few days training and then did two jumps. These were out of a Cessna, so unaccompanied and climbing out on to the wing! We did have walkie talkies on to help guide us down. First jump went ok, second jump I missed the drop zone and was told to head for a clearing. I landed, scrambled out from under my parachute to find a Chinese gentleman staring at me - I had landed in a Chinese chicken farm! This was obviously a regular occurrence as he just helped me up and pointed me in the direction of the parachute centre. Meanwhile I was being told on the walkie talkie that I could either take the long walk back to the front gates or climb the six foot fence. I took the fence. This is just one of many memories that will live with me.

YSS works with military veterans who are currently in, or are at risk of becoming involved in the criminal justice system. The service works closely with the individual to develop an intensive 1:1 support plan which aims to enable the veteran to access sustainable, independent living whilst reducing the likelihood of offending/re-offending.