How We Support Veterans

Waterloo Uncovered (WU) has been delivering archaeological excavations on the site of the Battle of Waterloo for Veteran and Serving Military Personnel (VSMP) since 2015. The wellbeing of participants has been a key factor of each excavation, and WU’s other programmes. 

VSMP excavating in the courtyard of Mont-Saint-Jean farm, Belgium, in 2019.

Our Veteran & Serving Military Personnel (VSMP) Programmes have been developed over the past five years, run by an experienced Wellbeing & Support team and lasting the duration of twelve months, WU’s VSMP Excavation Programme has seen incredibly positive results, as did our Virtual Programme (run in the face of Covid-19). In 2021, WU is adding two new programmes to its repertoire, Creative Arts & Finds. These a run in a similar format to our VSMP Excavation Programme and we expect to see similar positive results. 

The VSMP Programmes all focus on supporting participants in five key areas:

  • Recovery (mental & physical) – return to a desirable state of health, mind, or strength
  • Health & Wellbeing – being comfortable, healthy, or happy
  • Transition into Civilian Life – the passage from military to civilian life
  • Education – learning new things (formally and informally)
  • Employment (or equivalent) – employment or an equivalent outcome such as volunteer work (real prospects and skills as well as valuable new insights)


Participation is open to those who are already being supported by a charity and/or organisation (including the NHS) as well as those who come to us individually. They will all need to apply through the same application process. Recognised carers can accompany individuals if required. Those with outstanding court cases will not be considered. Participation is likely to be a “once in a lifetime” opportunity.

The 2019 team in Belgium.

We aim to create as diverse and balanced a team as possible, with a range in age, gender, military experience, and support aims. They will work at Waterloo alongside a small number of veterans from other nations, including The Netherlands and Germany, via our partner organisations in the project. Applicants do not have to be injured to apply, but all applicants should consider what benefits they are hoping to gain from taking part.

Places on the programmes are limited. It will therefore not be possible for WU to take all applications onto the programme, but great care will be taken with those not selected to continue the process, to ensure the application process is a positive one. For those looking to enter or experience the worlds of archaeology, arts, historical research and heritage, advice will be given on other projects that are available, and alternative points of entry.

It should be noted that limited places are available to wounded, injured and sick serving personal as well as veterans, especially those who are facing the prospect of becoming a veteran, but also those who are looking make a recovery a return to work.

Waterloo Uncovered does not provide any definitive rehabilitation or clinical outcomes in isolation. The Waterloo Uncovered experience works with a variety of care agencies, and can deliver, for example, a part of a mutually agreed facet of a personalised rehabilitation programme or a Graded Return to Work Programme (GROW).

The WU Support Programmes are a 12-month process, and consists of five phases. They are as follows:

Phase 1: Application (February)

Application forms are available by emailing Waterloo Uncovered – WU staff are available to help and answer questions throughout. All applicants will receive an acknowledgement of their application once it has been received by WU. They will be informed of next steps during the first week of March.

Phase 2: Selection (March)

Applicants taken to this second phase will be invited to participate in a Skype/ Zoom interview with two members of WU staff (one from a welfare background). Referring organisations might be invited to provide supporting information. Applicants will be informed of their next steps at the end of March.

Phase 3: Build-up (April to June)

WU will be in regular contact with selected participants to prepare them for their upcoming Programme and welcome them to the project team. As well as managing admin and logistics, this phase involves some important team building, fundraising and research activities (e.g. very light, optional reading).

Phase 4: Programme Content (running throughout the year across three VSMP Programmes) 

In 2021, WU will be offering its Virtual Support Programme, its Arts Programme and its Finds Programme. All of these programmes have six-week ‘content blocks’ consisting of time with our team, specialists in subject areas and potentially in real life trips (Covid-19 dependant). This content is topped and tailed by Wellbeing support, should participants require it, there are regular Meet ups (virtually), interactive activities and plenty of time to get to know fellow participants. More information and the benefits of spending two-weeks conducting archaeology with a like-minded group of people can be found in our upcoming Impact & Activity Report (April 2021).

Phase 5: Follow-up 

WU will stay in regular contact with participants to ensure they have had a positive experience on our Programmes, have every opportunity to make the most of it. We ensure that, where a handover to another organisation is required, it will be professionally carried out. All participants will be helped with information about opportunities or support relevant to their situation and WU experience. The programmes will culminate with a call from a member of WU welfare staff to ensure completion of tasks, offer advice, and conduct a final participation questionnaire.

Phase 6: Moving on 

This is a time for participants to stay in touch and attend a reunion which will take place around the middle of February. Contact will be minimal from WU staff; however, Participants will be able to communicate via social media, email, or phone call with whomever is required during this period. The vast majority of WU participants report they have made new friends they continue to stay in touch with. WU continues to provide past participants with valuable signposting, with information ranging from heritage opportunities to welfare support, largely through digital content. WU will also be hosting a reunion event at the National Army Museum in 2022, this will be a pop-up for WU’s new Finds Collection and some of the creative outputs from WU’s Arts Programme, as well as giving everyone the chance to catch up in person!

The design of the programme meant that there was something to look forward to every single week during the hardest part of the lockdown, and we met up with people online to have a good chat weekly. It wasn’t just the learning part, it was that we got to meet up with a group of like minded people, that I think for me and quite a lot of the others was something to look forward to.

Jamie, 2020 participant