Image for Walking with the Wounded News - WWTW Ambassador, Nick Knowles, champions the skills of our veterans.

WWTW Ambassador, Nick Knowles, champions the skills of our veterans.

"Through my work as an Ambassador for the military charity, Walking With The Wounded, I have witnessed first-hand the unique skillset of those who have served."

In light of the article published in The Sun newspaper last Thursday, Walking With The Wounded Ambassador, Nick Knowles, reveals his dismay at the number of veterans who are unable to find employment after having served their country. Having worked alongside the Armed Forces  community during the DIY SOS transformation of Canada Street, Nick has has taken the time to champion the unique skill set that veterans offer to potential employers. 


The brave men and women who have served in the Armed Forces, like SAS veteran Bob Curry who helped break the 1980 Iranian embassy siege, often cannot gain employment when they leave the military.

Reading in yesterday’s Sun what SAS veteran Bob Curry has gone through was devastating.

The  1980  Iranian  embassy siege hero is broke and homeless after decades of service to his country.

To many, his situation will be shocking — but unfortunately the harsh reality is that Bob’s story is all too familiar.

Too many men and women who have served, who have put themselves in harm’s way, defended our borders and our way of life, and who have seen friends and colleagues lose their lives, cannot find a job on leaving the military.

Without the structure and support of life in the forces, some become victims of ­circumstance, sucked into a downward spiral and ending up homeless, socially isolated or in some cases caught up in the criminal justice system.

But there is an easy way to stop our heroes ending up in this sort of terrible situation and instead reintegrate into society. It’s called employment.

A job gives an ex-serviceman or woman the purpose they need, and the future they deserve. And it’s not just the veterans who benefit.

Through my work as an ambassador for the military charity Walking With The Wounded, I have witnessed first-hand the unique skillset of those who have served.

They can offer employers commitment, reliability, teamwork and leadership — ­qualities that are at the heart of military life and are also prized in the workplace.

You only have to meet those extraordinary individuals ­living on the veterans’ street in Manchester to know the truth of what I am saying. In 2015 our DIY SOS team transformed Canada Street from a dilapidated neighbourhood into homes for ex-servicemen and women who initially struggled with returning to civvy life.

Around 15,000 men and women leave the military each year, and while most find a job and a home, a number don’t, and we must help them.

A recent study by Barclays revealed a potential loss of £1.5billion to the economy due to jobless veterans. Barclays recognises their skills. Will others? If not, they should.

It’s challenging, but organisations such as WWTW, Hull 4Heroes and Rugby 4 Heroes, plus initiatives for retraining and home-building like those already done by Ken Hames in the West Country and DIY SOS in Manchester, suggest that if we pull together as a community we can solve this.

Veterans are proud people who don’t want to live off the State and charities. But ­sometimes they need help with the transition. Employment support is available from ­organisations such as WWTW, which has trained advisers who can help with support.

It also has strong relations with employers who do want veterans and see their talent.

Yesterday the Duke of ­Cambridge was celebrating a veteranemployment project created by WWTW, the NHS and The Royal Foundation.

The Step Into Health initiative will see Army, Navy and RAF veterans recruited to fill NHS vacancies, from porters to directors. It’s simple, effective and makes complete sense.

Let’s hope that innovative programmes such as this will mean it won’t be long until all companies across the country recognise the skills possessed by many of those who have served, and that they are readily deployable to the ­civilian workforce.

I’d love the Government to take the lead. It already supports youth vocational apprenticeships, so why not some-thing similar for veterans?

The more of our brave men and women we get into work, the fewer sad tales like Bob’s we will hear.

It’s important that we start seeing ex-servicemen and women as a huge skilled resource for employers — who will actively consider employing a veteran when they are next recruiting.

Written by Nick Knowles for The Sun. Published 18th January 2018.