A word from Sara Baade, Army Families Federation Chief Executive

IN A recent meeting, I was asked: “Why is it that Army families’ morale is so low at the moment and why are they so averse to change?”

At the time, I responded briefly but it has been playing on my mind and I’ve been giving it a lot more thought. As a group, are we really that negative? Do we struggle with change? No, I don’t think so. I think quite the opposite is true.

The families I come across are resourceful, positive, have a real “can-do” attitude and are resilient to change and uncertainty. In reality, you probably deal better with change than most people I know.

I do, however, think morale is a real problem at the moment and this is linked to change – not because we struggle with it, but because we have had so much of it lately.

Understanding the effects of change

There is a difference between chosen change and forced change and I think it is the latter that has affected many of you. There have been changes to pay, pension and Service Families Accommodation rates and now we are facing further seismic changes to our lives through the potential implementation of the Future Accommodation Model (FAM).

Many of you who approach us feel that the terms and conditions that you and your soldier originally signed up to have changed significantly and the “offer” has been eroded. This is certainly what we pick up from your concerns.

Whether the offer has been eroded or not is almost irrelevant. You are feeling that your way of life is vulnerable and, as a result, some of you have lost faith and are now critical of anything that is being communicated by the Army or MOD.

Where do we go from here?

How do we raise morale again? Well, I think a lot of the problem is the way in which families are communicated with ñ or not, as is often the case.

The negative feelings have come from not being included or consulted properly. I have asked the MOD and the Army for improved, honest communication with you. I have asked that your views are really listened to and taken into consideration prior to decisions being made – all fairly straightforward requests.

The MOD and the Army have responded positively to these concerns and I think we must give them a chance to show that they are willing and able to try.

I’m really pleased that in this edition we have an interview with DPers General Rob Nitsch, who has overall responsibility for all personnel issues in the Army. We used this interview as an opportunity to ask him some of your questions that you submitted via social media.

MOD’s Chief of Defence People, Lt Gen Richard Nugee, has also responded to our FAM manifesto following your feedback from our Big Survey last year – aff.org.uk

We’ll continue to push for more effective communication and consideration and I encourage you to get in touch (us@aff.org.uk) if there’s anything we can do to help you raise your morale.

I look forward to hearing from you.

Contact AFF @The_AFF on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram or via aff.org.uk

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