Volunteering behaviours among UK military Veterans during the COVID-19 pandemic and associations with health and well-being

Marie-Louise Sharp*, Margaret Jones, Howard Burdett, Nicola Fear

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


Introduction: The COVID-19 pandemic facilitated new methods of and motivations for volunteering and created barriers to participation through social restrictions and lockdowns. The research assessing the volunteering behaviours of ex-service personnel (Veterans) is limited; however, as a group they may be more likely to volunteer because of aspects of military culture that encourage pro-social behaviours. The authors investigated levels of formal and informal volunteering among UK Veterans during the pandemic, factors associated with volunteering, and whether the pandemic affected Veterans' volunteering behaviours. Methods: An additional wave of data was collected from a longitudinal cohort study of the UK Armed Forces through an online survey conducted from June to September 2020. Participants were included if they had left the armed forces after regular service and were living in the United Kingdom. Invitation emails were sent to 3,547 Veterans, with a 44% response rate (N = 1,562). Results: Overall, 60% of Veterans reported volunteering in the past 12 months. Of those who volunteered, 41% reported formal volunteering, and 44% reported informal volunteering. Veterans reported reducing formal volunteering because of the pandemic (45%), but they also reported increasing informal volunteering (66%). Discussion: During the pandemic, UK Veterans volunteered at a level similar to the UK general population. They reported higher levels of formal volunteering and lower levels of informal volunteering compared with the UK general population. Understanding who among Veterans is likely to engage in volunteering could support future strategies to engage volunteers and open more opportunities for participation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)50-61
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Military, Veteran and Family Health
Issue number3
Early online date10 Feb 2023
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2023


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