Ex-Armed Forces personnel offered their support to the NHS when Britain declared war on Omicron in late 2013.

They are the unsung heroes in the vaccine drive. Over Christmas, they rolled up their sleeves to help Britain get protected from Covid-19.

Ex-military personnel came forward in great numbers when it was necessary to create an army of dedicated and skilled helpers that the NHS could trust. Their time and expertise have been freely shared by them since.

It was an almost superhuman effort to get millions of Brits boosted in just a few weeks

In just weeks, millions of Brits were able to be boosted. It took a superhuman effort

They have established a number of vaccination centers around the country, coordinated vaccine supplies, and learned how to immunize people.

They have been invaluable in their contribution. It was quickly discovered that two doses only of Covid-19 didn’t offer enough protection after the Omicron variant of Omicron was identified at the close of last year. Action was needed – and quickly.

To get millions of Brits boosted in just a few weeks would take a superhuman effort but our Army, Navy and RAF veterans – along with their reservist colleagues – were up to the task.

Steve Barclay (Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster), said that veterans across the UK supported the communities they served as first responders, volunteers, and vaccinators during the Christmas season. This shows their dedication to service, even when they’re not in uniform. All veterans are greatly appreciated for their efforts.

Below are some stories of veterans.


Retired Army major Sally Orange decided to volunteer to support the vaccination effort after witnessing firsthand the dire situation of Covid-19 patients while volunteering in Nightingale hospital during the pandemic.

She said, ‘I was exposed at the devastation caused by the virus on a wide range of people in many ways. Be that isolation, grief, illness or death. “I also saw many people, young and old, affected by the long Covid syndrome.

Salisbury-based Sally was 22-years-old as a physiotherapist for the Royal Army Medical Corps. She is a good candidate to assist with the booster rollout.

Volunteer: Retired Army major Sally Orange, 48, spent 22 years as an Army physiotherapist

Volunteer: Sally Orange (48), a retired Army Major, worked 22 years as an Army Physical Therapist.

The 48-year old has completed training and now volunteers when she can, including for vaccinations.

‘It’s hard to measure the sense of purpose that volunteering gives,’ says Sally, who’s raised more than £500,000 for military charities over the years by running marathons – dressed as fruit! – all over the world.

“Although I am a veteran, it is something that makes me feel like we never stop serving, even though we are no longer in the military.

“Knowing there was an effort at national level to eradicate the virus via vaccine rollout, it wasn’t difficult to join the cause,” he said.

“It was my previous service that allowed me to easily fit in to different teams while still being kind and understanding of the needs of others.


Jake Wade has been a volunteer in many capacities, including helping with the Gulf War amputations and taking care Kurdish refugees injured in Iraq. He also helped coordinate efforts against Ebola in Sierra Leone.

Hartlepool-born 56-year-old spent nearly a century working as a medical assistant for the Royal Navy. She then joined the Royal Army Medical Corps, where she worked in mental healthcare support for eight more years.

In 2019, he joined Hartlepool’s NHS to oversee the distribution and control of PPE.

Jake Wade, 56, from Hartlepool, spent more than 30 years in the Armed Forces

Jake Wade, 56, from Hartlepool, spent more than 30 years in the Armed Forces

Jake Wade (56), a Hartlepool resident, worked as a medical assistant for 25 years in Royal Navy, before joining Royal Army Medical Corps.

“My logistic knowledge from working overseas with Royal Marines came to the forefront,’ he said. “I wanted to make sure community midwives, and health visitors, had all the PPE they required.”

“In certain cases, I had to go out in my van and do the deliveries. It was impossible for anyone to do this.

He learned this trait while serving in the Armed Forces. It was his willingness to take on any challenge that allowed him to set up the Regional Vaccination Operations Cell (East Midlands).

He said, “There are the same thought process involved.” “Most members of my team were ex-services personnel.

“A few weeks before the vaccination program started, I could tell where it would lead from my personal experience during the Ebola crisis.

“So, I recruited one of my men, who was responsible to decontaminate Ebola from Sierra Leone and train people. No matter what the situation, veterans will be there to help their communities no matter how hard or simple it is. They are taught it.


Mike Quaile, who signed up for the program in September 2020 has assisted in setting up over 80 vaccination centers, including Stadium MK in Milton Keynes.

Mike Quaile, 62, was a lieutenant-colonel in the Royal Artillery before he left in 2014

Mike Quaile (62), was a lieutenant colonel in Royal Artillery, before he took leave in 2014.

The 62 year-old served 40 years as a Lieutenant-Colonel in Royal Artillery’s Army before he was discharged in 2014. He is now working with Help for Heroes to coach and support wounded soldiers.

Since the beginning of 2015, he has served as the East England Estate and Logistics Lead. He helped to establish jab centres and supply hospitals.

He has a wealth of experience with building schools in Bosnia, sinking water wells in Bosnia, and supplying soldiers in Afghanistan.

Salisbury father-of-3 says, “We were being forced to separate the wheat and the chaff.

“That’s it!” [veterans] bring – task focus, a calmness and belief that the team can succeed.

“It was important for me that something be done about the virus problem. This was how I could aid.

“Now, I feel like I have contributed to the millions of vaccinations that have prevented people from being admitted and saved lives.

My grandchildren will ask, “What was your role in fighting the terrible pandemic?”I will be able say, “I helped combat the virus.”


Senior aircraftman James Case was delighted to be able to help the vaccination drive

James Case, a senior pilot was thrilled to have the opportunity to assist with the vaccination drive

James Case, trombonist and composer for Covid was practically obsolete when he struck. 

The Band of the RAF College was the senior pilot’s favorite band, however all concert and parades were cancelled.

When he was asked to go to Glasgow, he delighted in helping to vaccinate the people of the region. He did this at libraries, towns halls, and city’s Central Mosque.

James said, “We were given some training by an NHS specialist and then had to learn hours of online theory.” 

“We saw nurses and doctors administer vaccines to people, then we gave our first.

‘It was fine – the training was good, and I knew what I was doing even though it was something I’d never done before.

“We have been well received by the general public and feel an immense sense of accomplishment.”


Nigel Jones, an Army vet, was able to see firsthand how effective these vaccines were when he volunteered at a Hereford pop-up vaccination center.

A former Royal Signals soldier, who hails from Abergavenny in Wales and was a corporal in the Royal Signals, started work for Ambulance Service, in 2014, where he now treats far fewer coronavirus cases.

The 57-year old says that people are still showing symptoms but it’s not as severe as before the vaccines. It seems that it works, even though I don’t understand the science behind it.

Army veteran Nigel Jones, from Abergavenny in Wales, says he can see the jabs are working

Nigel Jones is an Army Veteran from Abergavenny. He says he can clearly see that the jabs work.


The excitement of the Lincoln crowd was evident when Danielle Harper Dixonon and her coworkers arrived to begin immunising citizens.

The 35-year old flight lieutenant of the RAF says that it was an incredible moment when the team arrived. “We all wore uniforms, so the volunteers and those waiting for vaccination gave us an applause. We were very proud of it.

“People feel so happy to have it, and it was a great way to spend Christmas with loved ones.”

Danielle Harper-Dixon, 35, says the crowds cheered when she and her colleagues arrived

Danielle Harper Dixon (35), says that when Danielle Harper Dixonon and her colleagues arrived, the cheers were overwhelming


If you still haven’t had your booster – or if you are yet to have your first or second vaccination – it’s essential you book it now

■ Every adult in the UK now needs to get the booster for protection against the Omicron variant.

■ It will also help to stop you becoming seriously ill with Covid-19 in the longer term.

■ Those aged 16 and above are eligible for the booster three months after their second Covid-19 jab.

■ You can book an appointment at a vaccination centre or pharmacy online, or go to a walk-in centre without booking.

For more information or to book an appointment, go to nhs.uk/covidvaccination

■ This article is part of a paid-for partnership with the UK Government