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Careers support for military veterans with a disability

Veterans' stories

We’ve spoken to OU students about their careers, study plans and their lives. These real stories can give you an idea of how we've helped them to progress, develop or move into their chosen career.

'John'

(this student has chosen to remain anonymous)

"I left school with two-and-a-half GCSEs after being made homeless shortly before my examinations, so I decided to join the Army in 2005. I enjoyed the challenges provided by the Army but always felt that I should have achieved more. Deployments to Afghanistan only strengthened my interest in psychology and after being shot whilst on patrol in 2012 I was medically evacuated back to the UK.

A member of the Welfare team mentioned the Open University to me and suggested that I use my newfound free time to study. I decided to pursue a BSc (Hons) Psychology degree with the Open University and managed to complete the course in three years, achieving a 2:1 classification.

Although the journey was difficult at times, the knowledge that I have acquired through my studies has helped me to achieve things previously thought impossible. I have set up and operated a Ministry of Defence funded veterans support project that has support veterans throughout my county, presented my own research on veterans’ mental health to government in Westminster in 2019, completed a MSc degree in Health Psychology and am now currently preparing to study a PhD through the Open University.

The start of this journey began with a level 1 module in 2012 and it was the best decision that I have ever made. The Open University provided me with a unique opportunity to achieve my potential and I grabbed it with both hands. Without this opportunity I would not have been able to apply to become a commissioned officer in the British Army or be continually progressing into my dream career as a chartered psychologist. Although distance learning isn’t for everyone, I would strongly recommend the Open University to anyone who feels that they only need the opportunity to show their true academic potential."

Barry

"In September of this year [2019] I went on a placement to the offices of the Portsmouth News. I was put into the position of trainee reporter. It was on first appearances an easy task but as the week went on the task proved a little more difficult than first thought. Chasing interviews became incredibly difficult to obtain. Getting anyone to speak and give information towards my stories was proving difficult. Despite having a troubling week with my stories I have been asked back to work with features and gain more experience in the industry while I study.

I am studying English Literature, however I may look at adding creative writing to the degree to work on my writing. This I hope will benefit my creative writing as well as developing myself academically in the field of English Literature. I decided to study with the Open University as it fitted with my lifestyle. I have a chronic health condition that would make studying at a red brick university, despite having the grades to attend institutions such as Oxford, Cambridge or any other Russell group University. It has been of a great benefit as I can work when I am well enough and read the study materials when I am resting and having to lie down. This would be impossible or at least difficult in a more conventional institution. The DVS has been a great way to kick start my career in civilian life. It has been a force of good and the careers team has put in an enormous amount of effort to ensure I get the support I need. This is by far the greatest help I have received in the 5 years since leaving."

Tom

"I currently work as a Scrum Master at Companies House - a Government organisation that is the UK's register of companies. I am part of a software development team that is currently working on upgrading internal systems as part of a wider digital transformation programme.

The best part of my job is the team - not just my team, not just the digital team, the whole Companies House team. It makes me so happy to see the whole organisation working together as one. If there is a 'worse part of the job' then perhaps it would be the long commute and terrible traffic congestion en route, but I've grown to even enjoy that now!

I got this job as part of the FDM Group Ex-Forces Programme. When I was at a major crossroad in my life, one of my brothers suggested I look it up and apply. He had been through the program previously, so I took his word and applied. From the very moment I stepped out of the lift and onto their floor they welcomed me with open arms and have supported me ever since.

I don’t have a degree, yet study was something I always put off, both before and during my army career. I chose to study with the OU because I knew they could offer me the flexibility I need, and the Data Science course gives me the opportunity to combine analysis with technology – a perfect fit for how my brain works!

My military experience has helped me greatly in my current role. “Calm under fire” – says it all. My employers and my colleagues know that I carry some hidden wounds from my military service, and they support me every way they can, without conditions. That’s so special, and I am eternally grateful for all the support."

Links to other OU student stories

Last updated 6 months ago