Juggling military commitments and family life when both partners are serving can be a huge challenge – even managing to arrange to live under the same roof isn’t easy.

The good news is that changes, led by the Army Personnel Centre, have been made to policy and processes that should ensure that the personal circumstances of dual service couples are given consideration by career managers before a decision is made on their next posting.

Previously, there was nowhere on the Posting Preference Proforma (PPP) to state that your partner is also in the army.

It’s now been amended to prompt career managers to discuss an assignment plan which considers the desires of the couple.

The new measures do not mean that serving partners will get preferential treatment at appointment boards, however, the changes should make a significant difference to those like Victoria Bulleid and James Gant (main photo), who have been together since 2015 and are both serving with Army Medical Services but in different units.

“The ability to live in the same place as your partner and come home every night is really important – for your mental health and your general wellbeing,” says Victoria. “If you’re in a happy home environment then you’re more likely to work more effectively for Defence.”

Getting in sync

There was a period when James would move jobs one year and Victoria the next which did make things difficult. But so far, the proximity of the postings means they’ve managed to live in the same house.

Victoria explains: “We understand that the needs of the service come first and in the future one of our careers may have to take precedence, but that can be our choice and we can articulate that to our career managers.

It gives me confidence that on the next jobs board our wishes to be posted in the same location will be taken into account. It is a step in the right direction.”

Making it work

Being a service couple means that both parties understand the challenges the other goes through – from last-minute exercises and duties to having to work late.

Victoria says: “We’ve both had a variety of jobs and have had experiences that may help the other.

“What’s important is not talking about work all of the time, having hobbies and interests to take a break from it. “It makes it easier that we’re both in the Army Medical Services, so posting options can be fairly close together. We don’t have children or any caring responsibilities at the moment which makes planning easier. I know dual service couples who do an amazing job balancing both.”

As well as the PPP, the Boarding Manual and Career Management Handbook, both of which are regularly referred to by career managers, have also been amended to include consideration for serving spouses.

For more info, see the PPP template via MODnet, Sharepoint or Defence Connect.

We’d love to hear your experiences of army life as a dual service couple. Get in touch – editor@aff.org.uk

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