Charity provides support for military patients and their families

Richard and Karen Staves
Richard and Karen Staves

Published on 04 September 2019

As a welfare officer with the Defence Medical Welfare Service (DMWS), Chris Cadman has swapped the battlefield for the bedside of patients in East Kent Hospitals.

The former soldier, who served with 2nd PWRR battalion, and the TA Welsh Medics, is on hand to offer help and support to any current or former service personnel, and their immediate family, on our wards.

His role is wide-ranging and diverse; one day he could be comforting relatives of a dying mum, and the next he could be arranging housing for a patient who’s been living on the streets.

It’s a far cry from his tours of duty in Northern Ireland, Afghanistan and Rwanda, but that experience serves him well in supporting the forces community.

Chris said: “For some people, it’s just ‘pulling up a sandbag’, as we say in the Army. Just sitting and chatting with people can be enormously helpful.

“Often former servicemen and women won’t tell their family what they have been through, but when they are with someone who is ex-military, the floodgates open.

“For other people, we can offer more practical support, from helping find accommodation to dealing with paperwork or putting them in touch with other charities and organisations who can help.”

Chris has worked with the DMWS since 2009, but took up his post working with East Kent Hospitals last year as part of a three-year project. He is hoping to make contact with as many forces families as possible during that time.

Anyone can contact him about someone with military experience who is being treated in our hospitals, staff or relative, and he will visit to assess their needs.

One family he has been able to help is Karen Staves, whose husband Rick was diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumour at the William Harvey Hospital.

Karen, who lives in Hythe, said: “Without Chris I would have given up, but he has been there to support us, to give me the information I needed and to help me work out what I needed to do.

“He looks out for my daughter and my son and gives us advice on what’s going to happen.

“Rick was in the parachute regiment but I had never heard of the DMWS – now I can’t speak highly enough of them and I think there should be more people like Chris. He gives me an outlet and has been absolutely brilliant.”

To refer a patient, call Chris on 07534 545520 and for more information on the charity visit www.dmws.org.uk