How best to maintain contact and manage life’s hurdles between the generations, especially with elderly relatives, is an ongoing challenge for some of you who are posted overseas. The good news is there are some services in place to support the wider army family. Here, our overseas team has some top tips…


Despite technological advances, there are additional factors to consider to maintain communication when apart such as:

  • time zone differences;
  • operational and security restrictions;
  • locations with poor or costly WiFi.

The British Forces Post Office (BFPO) system remains a vital communication and welfare link for both serving personnel deployed and families around the globe. Family members who prefer to write traditional letters or send parcels can use:

  • Forces Free Air Letters or ‘Blueys’.
  • Enduring Families Free Mail Service (operational free mail up to 2kg).

It’s important that they know how to comply with current BFPO regulations and label requirements.


  • Provide pre-printed address labels compliant with the standard BFPO address and return labels, including full name and postcode using block capitals. This will make them readable by the BFPO automated sorting systems and reduce the risk of items being delayed or returned to the sender.
  • Provide family members with CN22 labels for small packages.
  • Further BFPO guidance can be found at


Having been continually posted overseas for more than a decade with young children and doting grandparents both in the UK and South Africa, AFF Overseas Manager, Esther Thomas, can empathise with those who have spent hours ‘doing the duty visits’ when utilising their annual Get Your Home Overseas flight to the UK: “It’s exhausting, costly and often requires a degree of diplomacy to manage expectations and alternate visits to three sets of grandparents for Christmas!”


  • Consider staying at one of the tri-Service welfare houses dotted across the UK or the Services Cotswold Centre when visiting the UK to see relatives, or stay put and let them visit you!
  • Check out if there is welfare accommodation in the overseas location which can be used by visiting family.
  • If you’re contemplating boarding school, consider a school near to relatives if it’s appropriate as this can be a great way for family to stay connected.

Sam Webber and his grandad


If things take a turn for the worse families posted overseas should have peace of mind that the Joint Casualty & Compassionate Centre (JCCC) is an invaluable 24/7 support system which can reunite families in times of crisis.


The Webber family, based in Belgium, say: “We chose a school due to its close proximity to grandparents and we are so grateful for this as it has made such a difference for the children and us.”

In contrast, Granda Thompson, who lives in Ireland, is always a flight or ferry journey away no matter where his son’s family are posted or attending school. With them currently posted to Kenya, he says: “We are sad at times because they are so far away and we rarely see them – but we look forward to leave and school holidays when we can be together again as a family.”

Sharon, currently in Kenya, told AFF that when her dad became ill at the beginning of 2023, the army was able to get her back to the UK very quickly and most importantly in time to see him before he died. She says: “Even though I was thankful for the short time with my mum and children, it did highlight the fact that I was away the rest of the time. It’s at times like these that I feel the distance from loved ones most acutely and I feel guilty for putting my family through these times of separation and inconvenience.”

Lucy Webber and her grandma

Sharon is hoping that her mum and in-laws will visit them in Kenya later this year: “It’s hard not to see them more regularly but they acknowledge it’s a once in a lifetime chance for them to visit Kenya while we are here.”


Before departing the UK, you should give either a JPA P001 card to next of kin or share the JCCC virtual contact card.


If you have any questions or concerns about overseas postings, contact

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