Veterans Aid Chief Receives Honorary Doctorate

August 3, 2016
3rd August 2016: Veterans Aid’s chief has received an Honorary Doctorate of Civil Law from the university where he gained his PhD.

Dr Hugh Milroy, CEO of the London-based frontline charity, received the award at the University of East Anglia, in recognition of his significant contribution to the understanding of international veterans’ wellbeing.

He said afterwards,“The whole experience was humbling. I’m amazed to have been honoured in such a unique way and doubly so as it was a tribute from my own University. I can’t quite believe that my name has been added to such a very prestigious line of previous recipients! I chose to speak to the graduates on one of the most important days of their lives, to inspire them with my story as they step forward into the world of care for others. And to reassure them that they too can make a difference for those who have nothing.”

Dr Milroy, whose controversial views about the causes of hardship among the UK’s community of ex-servicemen and women has often sparked national debate was equally outspoken in his address to UEA students and graduands attending the ceremony. “Now is your time in so many ways; it’s time to take responsibility; it’s time to lead; it’s time to be the passionate one in the room; it’s time to be the voice of the voiceless; it’s time to challenge the status quo; it’s time to attack injustice; it’s time to have grand ideas – but above all it’s time to use your wonderful degrees to blow the filthy ships of injustice, inequality, social exclusion and poverty out of the water forever.”

Already an Honorary Visiting Fellow at UAE’s prestigious School of Social Work, Dr Milroy has been involved with homeless Veterans, practically and academically, since 1996. His MA looked at the effect of military service on armed forces personnel and families in general, while research for his PhD (Pathways to the Streets for Ex-Service Personnel 2001) was conducted among street homeless veterans. This ground-breaking dissertation is now held in the Library of Parliament of Canada.

Professor Gillian Schofield, Head of the School of Social Work at UEA, said, “The School of Social Work was delighted to be involved in the important research that Dr Hugh Milroy undertook in completing his PhD with us, as the challenges facing many veterans must be a concern for us all. The fact that Dr Milroy went on to build on his valuable research and become Chief Executive of a leading charity, Veterans Aid, is an excellent example of how we hope research can have an impact on policy and practice.”

Dr Milroy said, “Veterans and their families comprise a significant part of the nation. It is inevitable therefore that social workers will be involved with them, but the world of veterans in the UK is something that is frequently mythologised and exaggerated within the media, health service, criminal justice system, charitable sector and social care service. It is vital that our future social work leaders have a sound working knowledge of facts and issues rather than folklore.”

He took over at Veterans Aid after a 17-year career as an RAF officer during which time he was the final station commander of RAF Swanton Morley, near Dereham, Norfolk. Towards the end of his military career, while based at RAF Innsworth, in Gloucestershire, Dr Milroy became the its senior welfare and community specialist and did much innovative work in introducing community wellbeing as part of the Force approach to personnel effectiveness.

Under his guidance Veterans Aid underwent a rebrand, received an Institute for Turnaround Award, became a member of the European Federation of National Organisations Working with the Homeless (FEANTSA) and achieved international acclaim. In May 2012 Dr Milroy became an OBE in recognition of his outstanding work on behalf of homeless ex-Servicemen and women.

A former Visiting Research Fellow at Kings College, Dr Milroy still gives an annual lecture to MSc students in the Department of War Studies and recently co-authored a paper on Stolen Trauma with Edgar Jones, Professor of the History of Medicine and Psychiatry at Kings.

For further information about Veterans Aid or Dr Milroy please contact Glyn Strong on 0044 (0) 7806 920087 or