The Armed Forces Covenant


The Armed Forces Covenant is about fair treatment.  For most of the Armed Forces Community, the Covenant is about removing disadvantage; so that they get the same access to services as the civilian community.  The Armed Forces Covenant sets out the relationship between the nation, the government and the Armed Forces.  It recognises that the whole nation has a moral obligation to members of the Armed Forces and their families, and it establishes how they should be treated. 

The Covenants two principles are that: 

  • The Armed Forces community should not face disadvantage compared to other citizens in the provision of public and commercial services in the area where they live;
  • Special consideration is appropriate in some cases, especially for those who have given most such as the injured and the bereaved

A veteran is someone who has served in the armed forces for at least one day.  When servicemen and women leave the armed forces, their healthcare is the responsibility of the NHS.

All veterans are entitled to priority access to NHS care (including hospital, primary or community care) for conditions associated to their time within the Armed forces (service related).  However this is always subject to clinical need and does not entitle a veteran to jump the queue ahead of someone with a higher clinical need.

The Armed Forces Community includes:

Regular Personnel – Individuals currently serving as members of the Naval Service (including the Royal Navy and Royal Marines), Army or Royal Air Force.

Reservists – Volunteer Reservists, who form the Royal Naval Reserve, Royal Marine Reserve,  Royal Auxiliary Air Force, and Regular Reservists, who comprise the Royal Fleet reserve, Army Reserve and Royal Airforce Reserve.

Veterans – Those who have served for at least a day in HM Armed Forces, whether as a Regular or as a Reservist.

Families of Regular Personnel, Reservists and Veterans – The immediate family of those in the categories listed above.  This is defined as spouses, civil partners and children for whom they are responsible, but can where appropriate extend to parents, unmarried partners and other family members.

Bereaved – The immediate family of Service Personnel and veterans who have died, whether or not that death has any connection with Service.

Read the Armed Forces Bill 2021 - 22 here

Last updated: 19/08/2021