This Saturday will see the country come together for a two-minute silence at 11am on Remembrance Day, followed on Sunday by the National Service of Remembrance at the Cenotaph in Whitehall.
These annual events are an important opportunity each year to honour members of our armed forces who have died in the line of duty in the two world wars and subsequent conflicts.
“Nurses naturally play an incredibly important role in supporting military veterans across the UK”
They are, perhaps, even more poignant this year, given the current wars between Ukraine and Russia and Israel and Hamas. There are, of course, many others going on around the world too.
Tomorrow, I will be at Nursing Times Careers Live in London, where we too shall be observing the two-minute silence to mark the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month.
Our colleagues from the Armed Forces, who normally attend our jobs fairs, will not be there this time, because they will be busy rehearsing for their part in Remembrance Sunday.
However, I will be thinking about them and reflecting on the important role played by military nurses and the nursing profession in general during the times when this country has been at war.
Let’s take the Queen Alexandra’s Royal Army Nursing Corps, formerly known as the Queen Alexandra’s Imperial Military Nursing Service, as a famous example.
At the start of the First World War, there were just under 300 nurses in QAIMNS. By 1918, there were over 10,000. Around 200 British Army nurses were killed on active service during the conflict.
The nurses of QAIMNS were called upon again in the Second World War, by the end of which there were 12,000 in the service. In 1944, QAIMNS personnel were the first women to arrive in France on D-Day.
As well as the contribution of nurses themselves during wartime, they naturally also play an incredibly important role in supporting military veterans across the UK.
Currently, there are over 1.7 million military veterans in England. But research has indicated that around half of GP practices may be unaware of how many of their patients are veterans.
As a result, practice nurses are being asked to “lead change” in their organisations this Remembrance Day to support veterans who may be silently struggling with their mental or physical health.
They are being encouraged to take the quick and simple step of signing their practice up for the Veteran Friendly Accreditation scheme, launched by the Royal College of GPs and NHS England.
The free initiative helps practices identify, understand and support their veteran patients and, where appropriate, refer them to specialist physical and mental healthcare services designed for veterans.
This week Nursing Times has spoken to Helen Hurst, a practice nurse and veteran friendly clinical lead at Orchard Surgery in Bromborough on the Wirral.
She told us that, since signing up for the Veteran Friendly Accreditation scheme, her practice has gone from having 19 military veterans on its register to over 200, which is an amazing result.
The scheme sounds like it can make a real difference to veterans and, therefore, please consider signing up if you work in primary care or can encourage colleagues to do so.
But, regardless of setting or role, tomorrow represents an opportunity to reflect on the vital contribution that the nursing profession makes in the worst of times, wartime.