EX-SERVICE personnel looking for employment on civvy street are being encouraged to make use of Veterans’ Gateway, a first point of contact for former military men and women and their families who need support for a range of issues.

Since launching last June, employment – including changing careers and starting new businesses – has been one of the top five areas of concern users of the service have sought guidance over.

Former soldier Jel Bearder ended his military career in the Royal Horse Artillery after serving in the UK, Germany, Cyprus and Canada. During his time in the Forces he always loved sport, representing his unit in several disciplines.

Jel became very excited about the potential to work for British Military Fitness (BMF) but found he would need to complete an NVQ level one course before he could be considered as a trainer.

Not in regular work at the time, the course fees were beyond his reach – but, within a couple of weeks, The Royal British Legion employment service, Civvy Street, had confirmed that it would cover the costs of both the level one and level two qualifications.

Jel has been working for BMF for more than nine years and is now the park manager at four London events as well as representing BMF at events across the country and abroad.

He said: “Leaving the Forces and then having to choose and find a new career can be a really challenging time. You need support around you and having experts on hand is vital. The service Veterans’ Gateway offers will be invaluable for those beginning or already on their journey to a new career.

“Having done it myself I’d say to any veteran to use what help is out there. It has given me a direction and purpose and if 2018 is your year for finding a new path, contact the service to see if there’s support available.”

Mark Collins, assistant director of Veterans’ Gateway, said: “Having been through the process myself, I know that leaving the Armed Forces can be challenging and sometimes overwhelming. Veterans’ Gateway is there to assist veterans in identifying what support is available to them or their circumstances and who’s best to give it. No matter what stage they are at, there are experts on hand to help with a range of employment services.”

Veterans’ Gateway is a consortium project delivered by The Royal British Legion, Combat Stress, SSAFA – the Armed Forces charity, Poppy Scotland and Connect Assist.

To contact Veterans’ Gateway, call 0808 802 1212, text 81212 or visit veteransgateway.org.uk

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