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Pawfect partnership gets your vote

Baxter the dog with his award

Thanks to your votes, Jon our amazing lived experience lead and his canine partner Baxter have been crowned worthy winners in this year’s Soldiering On Awards.

Jon Giemza-Pipe represents the voice of military veterans in our Op Courage NHS veterans mental health and wellbeing service across the South East and has most recently stepped up as the acting armed forces lead at Berkshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust. 

Jon draws on his experience of serving 22 years’ in the Royal Artillery, and being medically discharged with health difficulties in 2016, to do what he loves the most – helping veterans to overcome tough times and help them on their mental health recovery journey. 

Baxter is his faithful companion and best friend, who is always there to provide support and grounding during difficult moments. Together, they've formed an extraordinary bond. Wherever he goes Baxter goes with him – whether that’s crossing the ferry to the Isle of Wight, representing the service at an outreach event or meeting new veterans at a drop-in clinic. 

The annual Soldiering On awards are a key event in the armed forces calendar, which recognise members of the military community who have changed the world for the better outside the forces. Winners in the Animal Partnership category were chosen following a public vote, in recognition of the unique relationships and companionship animals provide to the armed forces community. 

Jon, said: “It was a huge honour to be selected as a finalist against some awesome folks, who have all realised the power of animals in making connections especially in terms of Mental Health. Having my Canine Partner, Baxter, by my side, has meant I have been able to make that change out of the military, start to address my own recovery on onwards path. 

“Thank you to everyone who voted for us to win, it means a lot. I’m so lucky to be working in the Berkshire Healthcare Op Courage service with a brilliant team who I absolutely adore!” 


The awards event took place in London on Wednesday 27 September. Journalist Jeremy Vine presented the awards and introduced the finalists’ inspirational stories across 12 categories. Finalists were commended at the event by Johnny Mercer MP, Minister for Veterans Affairs and well-known veterans sent encouraging video messages including: adventurer Bear Grylls, British Army veteran and astronaut Major Tim Peake and SAS: Who Dares Wins Chief Instructor Billy Billingham. 

Find out more

Find out more about the animal assistance charity Canine Partners (opens new browser tab)

Find out more about the Soldiering On Awards (opens new browser tab)

Find out more about Op Courage the NHS Veterans Mental Health and Wellbeing Service (opens new browser tab)

Read more about how we support veterans to work with us

Read more about how we support veterans to access healthcare services