MOD launches investigation after decorated female veteran says she was mocked by soldiers over her medals

Watch: Julie-Anne Fulford speaks exclusively to Forces News.

The Ministry of Defence has launched an investigation after a decorated Afghanistan veteran says she was mocked over the service medals she wore at a Buckingham Palace garden party.

In an exclusive interview with Forces News, former Staff Sergeant Julie-Anne Fulford said two British Army soldiers questioned her about her medals which she said left her feeling hurt, disgusted and shocked.

Mrs Fulford, who completed 16 years of Army service, claimed one of the soldiers said "there's no way" she'd "seen action in her life".

Still of former Staff Sergeant Julie-Anne Fulford (Picture: Paul Shaw).
Julie-Anne Fulford did two tours of Afghanistan and served in Sierra Leone on Operation Gritrock during the deadly Ebola outbreak (Picture: Paul Shaw).

Mrs Fulford served in the Queen Alexandra's Royal Army Nursing Corps, completing two tours of Afghanistan and was deployed to Sierra Leone on Operation Gritrock during the deadly Ebola outbreak. 

Princess Anne awarded her an Associate Royal Red Cross for her work as a critical care nurse during the Covid-19 pandemic.

The garden party was organised for veterans and it was the first time Mrs Fulford wore her medals since leaving the military. 

She said: "Two serving members of the forces turned around, interrupted our conversation, for one, and one of them pointed at me and said 'Is that a George Cross?'

"And I said, 'No, no it's not a George Cross, it's an Associate Royal Red Cross', and his mate laughed and said 'See, told you, there's no way she's seen action in her life'."

She said she pointed out her Afghanistan and Sierra Leone medals but they "completely dismissed" her, and "laughed and walked away".

She added: "I do think, had someone senior overheard that conversation, it absolutely would have been stamped out."

Public response

Mrs Fulford shared her experience on Twitter and was overwhelmed by the response from people on social media.

She said: "This is a much more common problem than I ever realised and, actually, other female veterans contacted me and said to me, 'I have been laughed at, I know somebody who's been spat on, I've turned up to a veteran event, with my husband, and I've been ignored, and my husband's been welcomed and had to say 'Actually, no, my wife's the veteran'."

In a statement, a Ministry of Defence spokesperson said: "We are extremely proud of Mrs Julie-Anne Fulford ARRC who wears medals hard earned, in the correct order of precedence, for her distinguished, exemplary and loyal service as a member of the Armed Forces.

"We are aware of an alleged incident at where Mrs Julie-Anne Fulford ARRC was confronted about her medals, which we are investigating further."

Mrs Fulford hopes that something positive can come from her experience and had this message for the head of the Army: "Listen to how female veterans are being made to feel. We're not inadequate and I don't believe he, or anyone high up in the Army, sees that.

"I never had that when I was serving. I was so fortunate, I had a really lovely career.

"I loved my time in the Army and I was always pushed to do well and progress, so I never felt that [while] serving, but if other females are feeling that, then that's got to be heard."

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