How Do We Support Women Veterans At A Community Level?

The Office for Veterans Affairs (OVA)’s new Women Veterans’ Strategy will address the specific needs and challenges of women Veterans – but how can we support them right now at community level? 

Simultaneously highlighting their successes and considerable societal contributions, the Women’s Strategy (due later in 2024) will encompass areas including mental health support, physical welfare and employment.

At VOS, we feel that even more can be done on a local level to improve support for women Veterans, particularly in the areas of wellbeing and welfare. With many women Veterans amongst our VOS service users, there are many potential opportunities to establish user-generated and supported events, and resources for women.

Here we’ll discuss the details and expected outcomes of the OVA’s Women’s Strategy, and how our service users can help us build valuable women’s initiatives at a community level.

Sarah Atherton MP, Chair, Women Veterans' Strategy advisory group, explaining why the Women Veterans' strategy was created

Why was the Women’s Strategy created?

The Women’s Strategy follows an OVA and MOD review that assessed Veterans service efficiency. The review revealed that of the 251,400 ex-servicewomen across England and Wales, many face obstruction where certain services are indirectly male-oriented, where available services aren’t properly publicised, or where accessibility has been overlooked.

“Making this country the best place in the world to be a veteran shouldn’t just be something we say, but something we do,” said Johnny Mercer, Minister for Veterans’ Affairs. “To deliver this ambition, it’s vital that we listen to women Veterans, celebrate their successes, and deliver the support they need. That’s what the new Women Veterans’ Strategy will do.”

What does the Women’s Strategy involve?

The OVA are comparing the needs and challenges of women Veterans to those faced by men, creating solutions alongside relevant academic, charity and governmental experts.

To determine which additional support can be provided for women, they will outline current UK support services and where improvement opportunities exist for Government and broader support services – of which VOS and related organisations form an intrinsic part.

The OVA has already begun several women-oriented Veterans’ projects via the new Veterans Health Innovation Fund – including AI-supported depression and anxiety treatments emerging from the University of Exeter and IonaMind, and Northumbria University’s work assessing how military service impacts women Veterans.

This is all positive, but will take some time to come into practical effect.

Sarah Atherton MP, Chair of the Women Veterans' Strategy Advisory Group

We can make a difference in our own communities

The Government’s studies recognised that many women aren’t actively engaging with Veterans’ Strategies, either due to lack of awareness or past experiences.

While the UK’s official bodies build national solutions, there’s a fantastic chance for VOS service users and women connected to them to create events, resources and initiatives that immediately support each other and local women Veterans.

As we’ve said, VOS has many women service users. We welcome and encourage even more women to join us – but more than that, we appeal to the women we serve to connect with us, submit ideas for activities and outings they would be interested in, and even propose solutions to issues or challenges they might face which we can cooperatively bring to life.

VOS Women Veterans' Horticultural Event at Tuppenny Barn, UK

VOS women’s initiatives

Our recent Tuppenny Barn horticultural collaboration is  a great example of the kind of uplifting women-centric events we can create, with overwhelmingly positive attendance and user feedback that clearly demonstrate the need and demand for similar events:

“I found this absolutely amazing. It’s enabled me to take part in something most wouldn’t give me the opportunity to do. It has been such a boost to my mental health, having personal struggles currently, it’s given me a safe space/place to be me,” was some of the feedback we received.

To enjoy all that is on offer here has been great. I could do so much more than I and maybe others thought was possible. It sets the week off in such a positive way – I have learnt so much, and have been putting that into practice at home,” said a Tuppenny Barn attendee. “Being a group of females with military background has in a way empowered me to do more things without the level of anxiety that I would have had if men were here. A pleasure to be part of an amazing group.”

“Having time for me and learning something new with theory and practical elements has done me the world of good,” another attendee stated.

“This is my first VOS event. I didn’t know anyone, but the group was so friendly and welcoming. I have looked forward to coming and making the effort to socialise after being isolated during lockdown and family issues,” said one of the other attendees.

There is huge scope for activities, workshops, classes and support groups to emerge and thrive with support from the VOS team. The diverse thoughts, experiences and circumstances of women using our services can become a vital source of inspiration and motivation that bolsters what we already do.

Call to Action!

Our appeal to you is: work with us to conceptualise and organise more VOS women’s events, for the benefit of all. We can only be stronger for it.

If you or someone you know would like to get involved or make a suggestion, please contact us on

You can learn more about Tuppenny Barn’s therapeutic horticultural events here

Collage of VOS Women Veterans' Flower and Horticulture Event at Tuppenny Barn

VOS is here to support veterans from the UK Armed Forces service, the Merchant Navy, and their partners. If you know a veteran (from any time of service) located in Portsmouth, the Isle of Wight, Gosport, Fareham or the Solent area, please pass our details along.

If you’re a veteran or partner and are thinking about getting in touch, we would love to hear from you. Call us on 02392 731 767, visit one of our drop-ins, or email

Please note that VOS is not a crisis service. If you need immediate support, please contact one of the following:

  • Your GP or NHS 111
  • Attend A&E or call 999 for medical emergencies
  • The Samaritans on 116 123 (24 hours a day, 365 days a year)
  • A trusted family member or friend

Get in touch your way

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