Major Stephen Johnson

Second in Command, Engineering & Logistics Wing. British Forces South Atlantic Islands

Major Johnson has served in the British Army for over 32 years. Born in Yorkshire to humble beginnings, he joined the Army at 16 years old. He found he had a natural talent for teaching and spent most of his soldier career teaching both recruits and soldiers in initial basic training, trade training and annual military training. He taught the whole gambit of subjects including first aid, map reading and weapons training.

Demonstrating compassion and humanity and following the sad deaths of several of his soldiers, due to illness, he held the sad accolade as the ‘go to individual’ for conducting military funerals and assisted in over 25. As a Warrant Officer, in 2009, he became the Regimental Sergeant Major of the largest Regiment in the Army. Preparing and deploying the unit to Helmand Province, Afghanistan, one of his responsibilities was the conducting Operation PABBAY, the UK operation to repatriate those killed on operations. Always demonstrating compassion and selflessly helping those in need, he ensured that our Fallen were treated with the dignity they deserved, even when transiting from Kandahar to Camp Bastion. He was also the UKs multinational representative for other Nation’s dead during his time as the Garrison Sergeant Major of Kandahar Airfield. He was commissioned in 2012 and became the Royal Logistic Corps Sergeant Major, the Senior Soldier of the Corps, responsible as the soldier’s voice.

Following witnessing several soldiers and officers in mental health crises, including unresolved childhood trauma, alcohol and substance misuse, suicide ideation and self-harm, he paid to attend several mental health training courses to improve his knowledge. This training allowed him to treat those in the greatest need with compassion and led to several saved lives. He continued supporting a young soldier and a female sergeant, long past his time in command. These experiences led Major Johnson to apply to complete a master’s level, mental health related course at Birmingham City University, which he again self-funded achieving a distinction.

Demonstrating selfless commitment, he was approached in 2018 by an old boss to help improve leadership training and design some coaching for an entirely different cap badge in the Army. He designed a course, managed to get in accredited as a civilian qualification, delivered the pilot courses, trained the instructors, and completed internal verification of the courses. He continues to do this, five years on, completely in his own time, having served on operations in the Middle East and whilst posted 8000 miles away in the Falkland Islands in the interim.

Finally, he is now in year three of seven of a PhD programme where he is designing a leader mediated mental health intervention for service personnel. His research is gaining traction not only in the military but also in the NHS, police, and ambulance service.