A LOCAL NHS Trust is officially 'Veteran Aware' for its work with past and present members of the Armed Forces.

The accreditation, from the Veterans Covenant Healthcare Alliance (VC HA), acknowledges Southern Health's commitment to a number of key pledges.

It is one of a growing number of NHS trusts to gain the accolade and will display posters in its units, clinics and public waiting areas urging anyone who has served in the armed forces to make themselves known to staff.

Sara Courtney, deputy director of nursing and clinical lead for the Veteran’s Accreditation Programme at Southern Health, served in the Royal Navy before joining the NHS.

Daily Echo: Sara Courtney - Southern Health NHS nurse

She said: "We are so very proud to have achieved Veteran Aware status. With a large number of military bases across the county, it is key that we provide the very best care possible for veterans and their families whilst also supporting the recruitment and retention of veterans, military families and reservists.

"This accreditation recognises our Trust’s commitment to ensure veterans in Hampshire are fully supported by their local NHS healthcare services and is testament to the hard work and dedication shown by our staff, many of whom are veterans themselves, in achieving this."

Ms Courtney, along with Jennifer Rooker and Bob Beeching, two other veterans Southern Health, have been selected to join this year’s Cenotaph March Past in London.

Professor Briggs, NHS national director for clinical improvement and co-chair of the VC HA, said: “These trusts should be very proud of the commitment they have made to the service men and women of this country.

"Welcoming them into the Veterans Covenant Hospital Alliance is a major step towards our aim of ensuring every NHS trust in the country is Veteran Aware.”