Veterans Support Programme

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.


Our Veteran & Serving Military Personnel (VSMP) Programme has been developed over the past five years, run by an experienced Wellbeing & Support team and lasting the duration of twelve months, WU’s VSMP Programme has seen incredibly positive results.


The VSMP Programme focuses on supporting programme 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.

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 programme are limited to 15 UK veteran beneficiaries in 2019. 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 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 Programme is 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, and clear instructions are available online on how to do this. They can be downloaded or completed online. 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 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 the summer excavation 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: Summer Excavation (July)

Two weeks’ excavation on the battlefield of Waterloo! This is where our programme really comes into its own. 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 (release date April 2020)

Phase 5: Follow-up (August to December)

WU will stay in regular contact with participants to ensure they have a smooth return from the trip and 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 programme 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 (January to February)

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 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.

The Benefits of Participation

Details of some of the benefits offered to participants can be found in the accompanying Waterloo Uncovered Support Programme 2019 Analysis of Benefits document. These include: goal setting, personal administration and care, operating within a planned working day, engaging with education, and Exposure to the Arts.

Quantitative research has shown how participation can improve the health and well-being of all participants (as measured using the Warwick-Edinburgh Mental Well-being Scale - WEMWBS*).

Qualitive research conducted amongst participants, and their referring organisations, has shown that the holistic nature of the WU experience provides an environment, challenge and experience which supports those on a rehabilitation pathway, as well as other areas of personal development.

2019 VSMP Participant Feedback

  • “Thank you for the experience and step I needed to move forward with my life”

  • “I have found it difficult to find fault with any part of the project. The history is fascinating and I’ll definitely be doing more research”

  • "I didn’t know what to expect but the experience exceeded everything…spot on”

  • “Waterloo Uncovered has given me a handrail to life – it has helped keep me focussed whilst dealing with day-to-day stress”

  • “This has been an excellent experience that has helped my mental health massively. It has also provided me with an insight into potential career opportunities upon leaving the Army”

  • “This project is flawless and has been executed sensitively, professionally and with the veterans at the centre of all that this project does”

    Our Story

    Working in partnership with some of Europe’s top universities, and through the unique perspective of a team comprised of archaeologists, veterans, and serving soldiers, Waterloo Uncovered aims to understand war and its impact on people — and to educate the public about it.

    2019 Impact Report

    As part of our mission to uncover the secrets of the battlefields of Waterloo, we’ve discovered over 6000 objects so far, from cannon balls to bombs to human remains. Read all about the archaeology in our Impact Report:

    Veterans Stories

    Several of the veterans who participated in our 2018/2019 summer excavation chose to share their stories and describe the positive impact the project has had on them.

    Support Our Work