Deborah Armstrong, former RAF nurse, working at the Welsh Ambulance since 2003

25th June 2019

As an ex-member of the Royal Air Force, I was very pleased to see that we, as a Trust, have committed to the Step into Health Pledge and Armed Forces Covenant. I decided to join the Veteran Champion scheme which pairs recruits from military backgrounds to share my experience and help others have a successful career when leaving the military.

I understand some of the issues associated with transitioning from a military service career into an NHS workplace. The Armed Forces have a very distinctive way of doing things, but many veterans such as myself have managed to successfully transition. Although unsettling at first, the Welsh Ambulance Service has been a fantastic place to continue my career as a nurse.

I trained as a nurse in the RAF and had a career spanning 16 years which I absolutely loved. I still maintain links with RAF colleagues, some are retired and some still serving. I am also a member of the Princess Mary’s Royal Air Force Nursing Service Association which means I still keep up to date with nursing issues in the RAF

After leaving the RAF, I joined NHS Direct Wales (later became part of the Welsh Ambulance Service) in 2003 as a Nurse Advisor, moving into the area of education in 2005. Since then, I have completed my PGCE and gained an MSc in Leadership, Management and Health Promotion

In my current role, I am a Senior Nurse in the Quality, Safety and Patient Experience Directorate (QSPE). I have responsibility for all NHSDW/111 education for nurses and non-clinical staff and am responsible for professional nursing issues and the governance of clinical decision support software systems

When leaving the military, I found difficult it to navigate or understand things such as the terminology, management structures, but also more administrative things like pay scales and pension. My previous nursing experience was very different from that of most of my colleagues which means I don't have the shared background of most other nurses.

I currently share an office with an ex-Army nurse and I’ve found it very beneficial to be able to have a conversation with someone who understands my previous experiences. I hope that by joining the Veteran Champion scheme I will be able to share my experience and that I will be able to support others in a similar situation.