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Soldier On!

In the first of a series of articles, Defence IQ takes time out to speak with military charities, discussing how they are helping our armed forces, uncovering their success stories, and detailing how we can support them in the future.

Charity name: Soldier On!

Charity Number: 1136567

Contact: Nicholas Harrison (Founder and Managing Director)

Catchphrase:
Helping medically discharged service personnel prosper in civilian careers.

Speaking to Defence IQ recently, Nicholas Harrison, the Founder and Managing Director of Soldier On!, explained that service personnel are given good support on leaving the armed forces, but it can sometimes be one dimensional.

“The concentration of effort is amazing, but it is purely focused on rehabilitation,” Harrison said.

The aim of Soldier On! is to support those individuals beyond this period of convalescence and help them get back into the work-place. But Harrison was quick to differentiate Soldier On! from the work other charities are doing by noting two key points: first, it is for medically discharged individuals, which is not necessarily just those wounded in battle, but also includes soldiers suffering from genetic diseases for example; second, Soldier On! does not look to put candidates into “the first available job” but rather seeks to place them on the path to a meaningful, lifelong career. It achieves this by fully understanding what the candidate has to offer and then approaches relevant potential recruiters on the candidates’ behalf.

“Our focus is on helping individuals who have been medically discharged, so it is not just the limbless, it is equally for someone who may have a degenerative spinal disease for example … it’s the medical discharge that is the important thing,” said Harrison.

Among the support Soldier On! provides during the process of finding the ideal career for ex-service personnel is coaching seminars, hands-on CV assistance and interview training.

Last year was the charity’s first operational year and it has already helped a number of individuals find their dream career. Not least is Corporal Stuart Parker, who was injured when a 500lb bomb dropped from a USAF F-15 fighter bomber hit his position while serving in Afghanistan in 2007. Stuart sustained massive lung damage, lost his spleen and part of his pancreas, suffered severe burns and lost his hearing in his left ear while also rupturing his stomach, bowl and bladder. But because of Soldier On!’s help and guidance – which worked hand-in-hand with Stuart’s tenacity, skill-set, attitude and ambition – he is now a Logistics Manager for the Athlete’s Village on the Olympic site. You can see a video of Corporal Parker’s story by clicking this link.

The charity is working with a number of recruitment bodies including Job Centre Plus, HR Magazine, The Recruiter Magazine, and Michael Page recruiters. However, it is interest and support from industry that will really drive Soldier On! forward and help it get more soldiers into new careers. Thames Water, Lend Lease and the National Grid have all been forthcoming to-date but Harrison is keen to talk with many more companies – in any sector, it is in no way restricted to the defence industry – to improve the charity’s network and reach.

“We need to connect with as many companies as possible,” says Harrison. With the Army “medically discharging around 1,000 soldiers per year,” that’s a significant number of highly trained individuals who have a plethora of desirable skills relevant for the work-place.

Soldier On! needs £9,000 a month to keep going. Harrison explained that in the future he expects to step-away from operational control of the charity and let it be run “by the very people that it was set-up to support in the first place.” A medically discharged member of the Grenadier Guards is starting as the charity’s Candidate Manager at the end of this month.

Soldier On! has the backing of MoD officials and has Lieutenant General Gary Coward CB OBE, and current Director of Materiel (Land) and Quartermaster-General to the Forces, among its patrons.

How can we help? Well, getting in contact is the best place to start! Here are the details you need:

Website: www.soldieron.org.uk

Facebook: www.facebook.com/#!/soldieronorg

Linked In: www.linkedin.com/groups/soldieron

Twitter: @soldieroncharity

Phone:
020 7193 0492 / 01904 211048

Email: nicholas@soldieron.org.uk

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