Official websites are typically a bit bland in their treatment of the transition from military to civilian life. In reality it can, for a lot of people, be a terribly difficult process as many of the assumptions about life and your place in the big scheme of things is thrown into turmoil. The protections offered by the military drop away and the point at which you give up your MOD90 is especially symbolic. That is not to say that the future is all doom and gloom! Merely that, regardless of your circumstances, there will be many changes that you might not be fully prepared for.
Leavers are now provided with a lot of support before they sign off – far more than was available in the past when a quick medical and the perfunctory offer of a resettlement-course was about it. However, the Armed Forces Covenant lays down a raft of measures designed to help a Leaver once out in the world. As the Covenant says:
“As you transition from military to civilian life it is important you know what support and advice is available to you. The Armed Forces Covenant can help you at this time in your life.”
That said, not all of the provisions of the Armed Forces Covenant apply to leavers and so, in Part 2 of this TMT series we look specifically at how it relates to Leavers. As you go through the list of provisions please bear in mind that, as with many aspects of civilian life, it is up to the individual to look after themselves and to go out and actively look for and get the assistance that is on offer.
Areas where support is available include:
Service leavers guide April 2018
This is a 34 page document available as a PDF download from the following website: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/service-leavers-pack
The service leavers guide offers information and advice prior to and after leaving regular service.
The guide contains information about armed forces pensions, resettlement, reserve liability and support from charitable organisations.
Of particular importance to service leavers is the Pen 1 form ( the Armed forces pension schemes application form (Form 1) (updated 30/04) at:
which should be completed at the 6 month point prior to your last day of service using the link on your JPA account. If you do not have access to JPA you should compete and return the hardcopy form, no later than 6 months before your last day of service. The completion of the form is a legal requirement and failure to do so will result in a delay of the receipt of any terminal benefits and pension that you are entitled to.
Changing your life and career
Learning and training never stop whatever stage of your career you are at.
The Career Transition Partnership : https://www.gov.uk/guidance/career-transition-partnership
helps you to find a new civilian career or job by translating your skills, experience and qualifications into a successful civilian life. Provision of resettlement starts up to 2 years before an individual is due to leave the armed forces and continues for up to 2 years post discharge. In the case of wounded injured and sick (WIS) personnel this timeline can be longer, depending on the nature of their condition and the medical pathway.
Find out about employers that have ongoing opportunities for ex-military personnel at: https://www.ctp.org.uk/job-finding/directory
The College of Policing have published updated vetting guidance: https://www.app.college.police.uk/app-content/professional-standards/vetting/
so spouses and dependants of service personnel will no longer fail the residency requirements due to time spent overseas when applying to work for the Police Service.
Having a home
Support and advice is available to you for finding a new civilian home.
The Single Persons Accommodation Centre for the Ex-Services (SPACES) is there to help single ex-regulars find appropriate accommodation when they leave the services. IT can be seen at:
SPACES is a team of staff based within The Beacon at Catterick, North Yorkshire. They help to secure accommodation when leaving the Armed Forces, and provide support up to 12 months prior to and six months’ post discharge for those who have not been able to secure accommodation, and will maintain contact until suitable accommodation is secured. They work with applicants, regardless of location in the UK. Beyond six months after discharge, veterans are given information and advice only.
Own your own home provides a range of schemes that make home-buying more affordable. Details are at: https://www.ownyourhome.gov.uk/schemes-all/
And then click on the Forces Help to Buy box: https://www.ownyourhome.gov.uk/scheme/forces-help-to-buy/ which is summarised below:
If you’re a regular serviceman or servicewoman in the armed forces, the Forces Help to Buy scheme could let you borrow up to 50% of your salary to a maximum of £25,000, interest free. This loan is for buying your first home or moving to another property on assignment or as your family’s needs change.
All regular service personnel are eligible who:
have completed the pre-requisite length of service
have more than 6 months left to serve at the time they apply
meet the right medical categories.
However, there may be instances where exceptions to the standard rules may be justifiable, especially where you have extenuating medical and personal circumstances.
(Note that the scheme is due to end this year – 2018, so please check with your chain of command and personnel agency about availability.)
The Joint Service Housing Advice Office (JSHAO) provides civilian housing information during resettlement to assist with the transition to civilian life. It is available at: https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/joint-service-housing-advice-office-jshao
The JSHAO is the MOD’s tri-service focal point to provide service personnel and their dependants with civilian housing information for those wishing to move to civilian accommodation at any time in their career, and for those during resettlement to assist with the transition to civilian life. JSHAO telephone advice line: 01252 787574.
The Scottish Government have created a Veterans Portal which provides information on services for transitioning service personnel and their families and those currently serving who are considering living in Scotland in the future. It is at: https://www.mygov.scot/veterans/
Having access to healthcare
Find out about healthcare through the NHS for the armed forces is still available to you: https://www.nhs.uk/NHSEngland/Militaryhealthcare/Pages/Militaryhealthcare.aspx
You can find advice on registering with NHS Services here: https://www.nhs.uk/NHSEngland/Militaryhealthcare/transition/Pages/find-a-GP-and-a-dentist.aspx
Once you’ve left the care of the Defence Medical Services, registering with a GP and telling them you’ve served will:
inform services of your new location
put you in touch with your local health visitor
ensure you have easy access to services
ensure medical records are transferred quickly
Mental health support for the armed forces community can be found on GOV.UK and NHS Choices . The NHS can also provide mental health support through the Big White Wall service . This service is available for free to serving personnel, veterans and their families.
MOD and Department of Health support services information can be found on GOV.UK at: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/looking-after-our-armed-forces which contains this advice for leavers:
What happens when I leave service and need access to the NHS?
– If you have a medical condition as a result of your time in service, you should be able to receive priority NHS treatment appropriate to your needs and condition. Therefore you need to tell your doctor you are a veteran to make sure you receive such priority treatment (which is subject to the clinical needs of others).
– You should expect a smooth transition from military care into NHS medical care as you return to civilian life.
– For injured service people, this is assisted by the MOD through its Personnel Recovery Centres which bring together the NHS, the Armed Forces, charities and others at a local level.
Getting financial advice
If you had left the service within the last three years you would have been able to volunteer for the DWP Work Programme. However, note that new entries for the programme ceased on April 1st 2017 and those in the scheme will be able to continue for two years after the date at which they joined.
However, this link to the Government advice site contains other useful guidance: https://www.gov.uk/moving-from-benefits-to-work/job-search-programmes
If you have been seriously injured as a result of service, you may be entitled to the Armed Force Independence Payment. The Government provides a five-page document covering frequently asked questions which can be seen at: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/faq-on-the-armed-forces-independance-payment
Assistance with job-finding
Find out how the DWP’s enhanced access to Jobcentre Plus services might affect you. It can be seen at: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/jobcentre-plus-services-for-the-armed-forces-and-their-families and includes a summary of the publication:
As part of the Armed Forces Covenant, DWP is improving the way current and former members of the armed forces and their families access Jobcentre Plus services. This includes having an armed forces champion in every Jobcentre Plus District who ensures that we provide support that meets the needs of the armed forces community.
This publication explains the role of the armed forces champion and the improvements to the way members of the armed forces and their families access our services.
As well as other links to Jobcentre schemes to assist leavers.
One other excellent potential support network for Leavers are the Reserves. Many former Regulars go on to join the Reserves and they can be a great source of advice and assistance, having “been there – done that”. Combine their experiences with some of the extensive links that “civilian” members of the Reserves have at their disposal and you might find that joining a local outfit is one of the best ways of kick-starting your new life in Civvie-Street. It might not be for everyone – but it can be a way of softening the shock that does hit many people quite hard at the end of their Regular career. It might also provide a way of assisting with the training of new Reservists – something that has to have a lot going for it from the viewpoint of the individuals, the Forces, and the country as a whole.
We hope that Part 2 is of some help to Leavers. Do let us know by leaving comments or contacting TMT via the [email protected] link. We are always interested to get your opinions about this and similar articles.
Good luck to anyone about to embark upon a new, civilian career!