Extra support for those easing into civvy street
Preparation is key to a successful transition to life after a career in the armed forces. As AFF highlighted in its Lifting the Lid on Transition research, published in 2018 with the other families federations, families are at the heart of this.
Following the research, the MOD has developed policy to show how you should be supported during your transition to civilian life. The policy recognises that transition impacts on the whole family and that your service person’s employment is just one aspect of leaving the army. Transition shouldn’t just begin near the end of your soldier’s career, you should be supported much sooner to develop the skills and knowledge to leave successfully.
Here are some of the policy’s measures:
• All three services are working with the MOD to develop a ‘lifeskills’ programme covering housing, finances, healthcare and family life. Your soldier will be able to access these throughout their career to help prepare them for life after the military. It’s hoped that this will be rolled out to families in the future.
• The chain of command and those working in welfare will be given support to help identify soldiers’ needs and those who are potentially vulnerable when it comes to transition, to allow them to be given targeted support.
• The creation of the Defence Transition Services (DTS), which will offer support, particularly to those who are vulnerable.
What can the DTS do for my family?
DTS has four regional teams in the UK, each with a case worker, who can identify your needs and make sure you have support. Kate McCullough from the DTS encourages family members to get in touch: “If you’re concerned about any issues you’re facing and think they may have a negative impact on your family’s transition, please make a self-referral. We’re committed to helping you access the support you need.”
How can I access the DTS?
You and your soldier can choose to refer yourselves directly to the DTS; you do not have to go via your chain of command. Your soldier may also be referred, with their permission, by their chain of command or anyone else in their unit supporting them with welfare or transitional needs. For more information or to complete a referral form, visit gov.uk and search for ‘support for service leavers’.
Will Jarrett-Kerr left the army in 2015 after seven years to settle with his wife Rachel and their children.
“With six months left to serve, the civilian job offer I had was unexpectedly relocated elsewhere, so I had to decline it. We went from feeling buoyant about our move to civvy street to anxious about what the future held. We were in limbo and weren’t convinced we’d made the right decision.
“We were well informed about transition and I invested heavily in networking, which paid off when I secured a role in the construction sector that I now really enjoy.
“But buying our first home was stressful and confusing, the support of something like DTS would have been invaluable for us.
“Rachel stumbled across the shared ownership scheme that we used to buy our house and if she hadn’t seen that random advert, I don’t know what we would have done as money was very tight.
“Thankfully, we were accepted on to the scheme and I was offered a job all within the same week! We found out we were having our second baby soon afterwards too. All of a sudden, everything came together.”
Rachel has been able to refocus her attention on her own career without feeling nervous that a posting would affect where and when she could work. “Our children are settled and we’ve finally achieved that level of balance that first prompted us to think about me leaving the army.”
Andy Chambers left the army in 2018 with ten years’ service. After many moves and two tours, he decided that army life wasn’t conducive to family life for him and his now-fiancée, who was in an established career and reluctant to relocate with every posting.
“Having worked as a resettlement officer, I understood the process and it was valuable to have that knowledge. I’d planned the point at which I’d signed off carefully to give me five months between the end of my tour and my discharge date.
“I chose to do my resettlement advisory briefing during R&R so that I’d have time to reflect on what I learned during the second half of my tour, and I then attended a three-day career transition workshop during POTL.
“My own network and introductions from peers helped me make sense of the sometimes-conflicting advice I received. Now that I’m settled in my new career, I realise how important it is to have a good understanding of the reality of life outside the army.
“Paying for SFA direct from your salary is particularly unhelpful when it comes to understanding the civilian cost of living. I also got a shock the first time I went to my new NHS dentist and had to pay for an appointment!”