‘Transition’ is the process that soldiers and their families go through when preparing to leave the Army. Transition is a unique experience for everyone – what to do and when to do it will vary depending on your family’s needs.
Between October 2016 and October 2018, AFF worked with the other Families Federations to research families’ experiences of leaving the Army. The project helped us understand the challenges that families face and the help they need.
We are using this evidence to help change policy and service provision with the aim of improving families’ experiences of transition. The learning from the research has been embedded across the AFF team so that our co-ordinators and specialists can support you if you need help with your own transition.
What should I know about transition?
If you have a question or concern that relates to you returning to civvy street after life in the Army, contact one of our specialists or your local co-ordinator.
Defence Transition Service (DTS) has been launched to provide comprehensive support to Service leavers and their families with the transition into civilian life.
Responsibility will be placed on a Service person’s unit to assess each Service leaver’s readiness for transitioning into civilian life. Those assessed as someone who may find the transition more difficult will then be referred to Defence Transition Service.
Personnel and their families who have been referred to DTS will receive support and guidance from regional MOD teams on topics such as managing finances, including budgeting for council tax, housing and travel costs, and accessing healthcare.
Support from the DTS is provided for a member of the Armed Forces while they approach their date of discharge and will not stop when they leave. The support can continue for as long as it is needed.
Referrals for support can be made using DTS Form 1 (for unit welfare staff, Service admin staff, specialist welfare providers from all branches of the Front Line Commands and those connected with the Military Corrective Training Centre) and DTS From 2 (for self-referrals, and charities and local authorities).
The forms can be found at www.gov.uk/government/publications/help-and-support-for-service-leavers-and-their-families (Annexe G).
Veterans’ ID card
All Service leavers who have left since December 2018 receive a veterans’ ID card to mark their time in the Armed Forces. This card allows veterans to verify their Service to the NHS, local authorities and charities and access support and Services.
From 11 November 2020 a railcard will be available for veterans and members of their family travelling with them for £21 (rising to £30 after a trial period).Back to top
Deciding where to live and finding a home is a key concern for many people when their soldier leaves the Army, especially if you’re currently living in Service Family Accommodation (SFA).
Advance planning can reduce stress levels, particularly when it comes to having enough money for a purchase or rental income and understanding the true cost of living outside of SFA.
It’s also important to think about the location of your new home in relation to your and your soldier’s jobs, local schools and access to the local community and your support network.
To read about our housing research findings, turn to section 4.2 of Lifting the Lid.
The Joint Services Housing Advice Office (JSHAO)
A good place to start your housing research is by attending a civilian housing brief presented by JSHAO.
The briefings provide advice and guidance to you and your serving soldier, about housing options when making the transition to civilian life. You can attend a civilian housing brief at any point during your soldier’s career – you don’t have to wait until you know your soldier is leaving and is in resettlement!
For more information, click here.
The JSHAO civilian housing brief is now available online via the Defence Gateway, so you can log on at home and do the e-brief together with your soldier from a home computer.
Eligibility for final removals
The Army doesn’t pay for your first or final move, so make sure you’re aware of the costs associated with moving and prepare accordingly.
There is a little-known regulation covering ‘Final Tour of Duty’ requests. Provision does exist for paying both Disturbance Expense (DE) and Removal of Personal Effects (RPE) at public expense for a final move, providing that a request to reside in a particular area has previously been made to the appropriate Career Manager.
For more information, click here.
Charges on move-out
All charges for damages and deficiencies on SFA and SSFA in the UK are now recovered from the soldier’s pay.
For more information on how to prepare for move-out, click here.
Social housing is very scarce, and most councils have long waiting lists – the Armed Forces Covenant means that you will not be disadvantaged if you don’t have a local connection, however, it will NOT mean that you get to the top of the list.
Remember that if your soldier receives a pension lump sum as they leave the Army, this may mean you exceed the asset threshold to apply for social housing.
If you require local authority housing when you move out of your SFA, DIO’s Loss of Entitlement team (LOET) will issue you a ‘Certificate of Cessation of Right to Occupy Service Quarters’; this is a document issued to show when your entitlement to occupy Service accommodation will end. The Certificate can be used to demonstrate to a local housing authority that you will become homeless on a given date.
For more information on social housing, click here.
Forces Help to Buy (FHTB) Scheme
The scheme aims to address low levels of home ownership in the Armed Forces, overcoming the disadvantages that mobility brings in line with the principles of the Armed Forces Covenant. It supports greater lifestyle choice and retention of personnel. If you have at least six months left to serve at the time of application, you may be eligible. Click here for further details.
Notice to Vacate guidance for SFA customers from DIO
When your entitlement to SFA is due to finish, whether due to end of Service, divorce or discharge, you will be issued with a Notice to Vacate (NTV) by DIO.
An NTV is legal notice of the termination of your licence to occupy SFA and is generally 93 days with the last day timed to coincide with your soldier’s last day of Service.
During this period, you will still pay Service rates for the property and this money will still be collected direct from your soldier via JPA.
For more information on why it is issued and what you should do when you have received it, click here.
Irregular Occupancy (IO) – What happens when a ‘Notice to Vacate’ has expired?
Although it happens more than you might think, Irregular Occupancy isn’t a subject commonly discussed.
Forget the term illegal occupancy (as it is often called), there is nothing illegal about finding yourself in an SFA when your entitlement has ceased.
SFA occupants can become an Irregular Occupant for several reasons, including because of standard discharge or retirement from the Services.
In such cases, you are required to give the DIO Loss of Entitlement team (LOET) at least four months’ notice of your soldier’s last day of Service. 93 days’ NTV will then be given to coincide with the discharge date. If less notice is given, then the NTV period will be reduced accordingly. The DIO LOET can be contacted on 01904 418 000 (Military 94510 8000) or email email@example.com
Please note that the DIO OPS Accommodation finance team, based in York, deals with collecting rents from Irregular Occupants when they can no longer be deducted from salary. All letters in relation to IO, with the exception of financial statements, will be issued by the LOET. So, it is important that you notify them of any changes to your personal circumstances.
Once a ‘Notice’ has been issued, you will be notified of the new charges at least four weeks prior to the Notice expiring. This will enable you, if entitled, to apply early for housing benefits, thereby avoiding any delay in payment.
The letters sent out by the LOET use legal housing jargon and are set out in a manner required and understood by the courts and local councils. Terms such as: ‘Damages for Trespass’ and ‘Violent Profits’ (in Scotland) can seem intimidating, but they are simply legal phrases used to describe the total charges for the use and occupation of an SFA.
If you wish to apply to stay in your SFA for longer, click here for more information.
Leaving your SFA
When the time comes for you to move out of your SFA, it must be cleaned to move-out standard in the normal way. You should arrange a pre-move-out inspection through the Amey Occupancy Services Team on 0800 707 6000 so that your Accommodation Officer can give you all the guidance you require for move-out.
You may also be entitled to financial help with your removals, so contact your Unit Welfare Officer who will be able to advise you.
Where can I get information, advice and support?
If you do find yourself in this worrying situation, speak to your Unit Welfare Officer, LOET, Army Welfare Service worker, SSAFA FH or AFF about benefits and future housing provision.Back to top
Spousal/partner employment is recognised as a key contributor to a less challenging transition.
Being employed while your soldier is preparing to leave the Army can help provide some stability for the family and a helpful income as you adjust to civvy street expenses.
To read about our employment research findings, turn to section 4.4 of Lifting the Lid.
In today’s job market, having a good CV is essential, no matter what kind of employment you are seeking.
As an Army spouse who probably has a chequered career history or posting-induced career breaks, it’s even more important that your CV makes you stand out from the crowd.
Take a look at our top tips to make your CV work for you.
Resettlement for soldiers
Resettlement is the package of support that a solider can access as they leave the Army. It is usually available for a limited period for up to two years before/after your soldier’s end of Service.
People often confuse ‘resettlement’ and ‘transition’: resettlement is just one part of transition, which is a much longer-term, holistic process.
If your soldier is facing redundancy or looking at the normal resettlement route, the help that is provided by the Career Transition Partnership (CTP) and the Regular Forces Employment Association (RFEA) really does work.
Different packages are available depending on how many years your soldier has served and for those who are medically discharged.
There are lots of resources on the CTP website that are useful for non-serving family members too, such as information sheets and CV guides.
In some cases, such as some examples of medical discharge, a Service leaver can transfer their CTP entitlement to an eligible spouse/partner. For more information, your soldier should speak to their chain of command, IERO or CTP advisor. (keep all existing links in resettlement section).
Where can I get information, advice and support?
The Government and some Service and ex-Service organisations offer financial assistance to serving and ex-Service personnel, and members of their families, to support a course of study or training. This may include assistance with the added costs and expenses associated with studying. Click here for some good places to start.
Royal British Legion Industries (RBLI) Lifeworks for Families runs free courses around the UK and Germany to help Army families get back into work. They will help you discover the career that suits you, guide you through a change in location or situation and help you search and apply for jobs.
Have you thought about setting up your own business? Many Army spouses find this an attractive option which fits well with Army family life. Find lots of information to help you get started, here.Back to top
A move to a new location as your soldier leaves the Army can often mean finding school places for children.
To read about our education research findings, turn to section 4.7 of Lifting the Lid.
If you’re going to be settling in a new area as part of your transition and will be looking for new school places for your children, it’s important to contact the local schools and the admissions team of the Local Authority (LA) to find out where there are school places in your new area as soon as possible.
Some schools manage their admissions themselves and some are managed by the LA; the Schools Admissions Code 2012 refers to children of Armed Forces personnel.
This is only a consideration for admissions authorities and does not guarantee you the school place of your choice.
Having difficulty acquiring a school place for your child? Let us know, email firstname.lastname@example.org so that we can use evidence like yours to continue to campaign.
Transfer of pupil information
The Pupil Information Profile for Military Service Children has been specifically created for the transfer of Service children’s school records as a supplement to the common transfer file.
The Children’s Education Advisory Service (CEAS) and HIVE have ‘moving schools’ packs for primary aged children, which can be sent out to you. The pack comprises of three booklets: a children’s activity book, one for parents and a school history book.
Claiming Continuity of Education Allowance (CEA)
CEA is paid up until the end of the term that your soldier’s end of Service date falls. If this date falls in a holiday period, then CEA is paid up until the end of the term before.
If your soldier is leaving on redundancy or for other reasons, the rules may be different – contact our Money & Allowances Specialist at email@example.com for further details.
Double check the small print of the contract you have with your child’s boarding school as some layout a minimum number of terms; if you have not completed those, you may be liable for the full fees (without CEA) for the remaining time.
If you are keen for your children to remain at the same school but concerned about how to finance it, some parents have been successful in negotiating a lump sum payment (from their gratuity) to keep their child in school for the remaining time.
There are a couple of bursaries that AFF is aware of for families needing help with school fees. Contact our Education & Childcare Specialist at firstname.lastname@example.org to find out more.
Changing from a boarding to a day place
Please be aware that some schools have specific quotas for day and boarding pupils – particularly state boarding schools. Don’t assume that you can transfer from one to the other – check this with the school.
Service Pupil Premium (SPP)
£300 of SPP money is paid directly to state schools, free schools and academies across England for supporting Service children in Years R-11. Schools can claim SPP for ex-Service children for up to six years after they have left (providing they left after 2011).
It is not possible to claim retrospectively or to register your child for this via the schools’ census once your soldier has left the Army, so make sure your child’s current school knows your child is a Service child and registers them accordingly.
Equally, let your school know when your soldier leaves the Army, so their status can be adjusted on the records. For more details, click here.
Differences between education systems
England, Wales, Scotland, Northern Ireland and boarding schools all deliver education differently. Click here for a table showing comparative school years for children within the different state education systems of the Devolved Administrations.
Know where you are moving to? Try to identify suitable childcare as soon as possible and establish if there is a waiting list.
Be sure to let the current nursery know that you are leaving as you can only claim your free hours for three and four year olds in one setting at a time.
The Family Information Service offers free advice on childcare and funding in all areas of England; there is an equivalent elsewhere in the UK.
Where can I get information, advice and support?
The Children’s Education and Advisory Service (CEAS) also provides expert and impartial advice about the education of Service children.Back to top
Money can be a significant concern when leaving the Army. The cost of living in civvy street can be very different to living in SFA and it can take time to get used to a new way of budgeting.
To read about our money research findings, turn to section 4.5 of Lifting the Lid.
Final pay-out for pension benefits may take up to 35 working days after your soldier’s discharge/retirement date. It’s important that you plan for this accordingly and don’t rely on this money for time-specific expenditure, such as a deposit on a rental property, as any delays could mean you miss out.
Your soldier’s pension
Veterans UK is part of the MOD. It provides essential support services to the Armed Forces and veterans including:
Final removal costs
The Army does not pay for your first or final move, so make sure you are aware of the costs associated with moving and prepare accordingly.
Don’t forget to claim your National Insurance contributions
From 6 April 2010, all Service spouses and civil partners can claim National Insurance credits, to maintain their National Insurance record for time spent accompanying their spouse or civil partner on an overseas assignment.
These credits protect your entitlement to the basic state pension and contribution-based Social Security benefits such as Jobseeker’s Allowance and Employment and Support Allowance.
Click here to download the application form for National Insurance credits.
For more information on ‘Getting credits towards your State Pension’, click here.
Job Seeker’s Allowance (JSA)
This is the main benefit you can get if you’re unemployed and looking for work. This benefit is taxable.
AFF is extremely pleased that there have been condition changes for families returning from overseas with regards to claiming JSA.
These new changes have been implemented to overcome previous disadvantage faced by Army spouses/civil partners returning from overseas postings. Click here for more details.
Where can I get information, advice and support?
The MOD offers a Financial Aspects of Resettlement (FAR) briefing for soldiers and their spouses or partners, which is available to attend as soon as your soldier is entitled to resettlement. This is a great way to find out more about some specific financial elements of transition, such as the Armed Forces pension, and ask questions about others.Back to top
Healthcare is an important consideration when your soldier is leaving the Army, particularly if they or another member of the family is undergoing medical treatment at the time. There are a number of practical steps you can take to ensure family members can access medical and dental treatment once your soldier has left the Army.
It is also worth bearing in mind the emotional impact that transition can have on the whole family’s wellbeing. The Army has produced Transition Information Sheet 2 – The Emotional Pathway to help raise awareness of this.
To read about our health research findings, turn to section 4.6 of Lifting the Lid; for the Wellbeing pages, see section 4.3.
Registering with a doctor and a dentist
Registering with a GP is often nothing new for most Army families; however, if you have previously been registered with Defence Primary Healthcare (DPHC) or military medical centres, you may be a little anxious about registering with an NHS practice. For information and advice on registering with a GP, click here.
AFF is aware of the difficulties families can face in finding an NHS dentist. For more information and advice, please see our health pages.
The Army has produced some transition guidance for soldiers explaining how to access the NHS and veteran related services [Transition Information Sheet 3].
Once your spouse or partner has left the Army, they are considered a veteran and it is important that they inform their GP of this, particularly if they have an ongoing medical issue or are taking medication.
If you or a member of your family is currently undergoing medical treatment, or are taking specific medication, it is important to ask your GP for a copy of any relevant medical notes or a record of the medication that you are taking. This should reduce any delay in treatment when you register with your next GP, particularly if your medical notes haven’t arrived when you have your initial appointment.
If you are receiving specialist treatment in hospital, it is recommended that you ask your consultant for a current referral letter. Your new GP can then re-refer you for consultant and secondary care.
If you are currently on an NHS waiting list and move before you reach the top of it, you should be able to transfer any waiting time accrued when you move; this is a commitment of the Armed Forces Covenant.
If you do experience problems with transferring your NHS waiting list time, contact AFF Health and Additional Needs Specialist Karen Ross at email@example.com
Army families have always been expected to access their mental health provision through the NHS or through charitable provision, so this won’t change when your spouse/partner leaves the Army. Mental health provision can also be accessed through various charitable organisations; for more information, click here.
Service personnel are provided with mental healthcare provision through the Defence Medical Services (DMS) if required. However. once your soldier has left the Army, their NHS GP becomes responsible for healthcare provision for both physical and mental health issues.
If your spouse/partner is experiencing mental health issues that you believe are related to their Service in the Army, they can ask their GP to refer them to the Veterans and Reserves Mental Health Programme (VRMHP). This is located in Chilwell near Nottingham and is open to veterans who have served on operations since 1982. VRMHP staff understand military life and will carry out an assessment of the mental health problems being experienced and then refer on for any treatment required.
Other organisations that can help both veterans and their families on mental health include:
Transferring treatment or NHS waiting list time
For more information, click here.
Additional needs adaptations – moving from SFA to a civilian house
If you have a family member with additional needs and/or disability and you require adaptations to your next property, contact your Local Authority (LA) to request an Occupational Therapy (OT) assessment.
In some areas, LAs may have long waiting lists and they usually have eligibility criteria to see whether someone can receive OT services; this is based on the Fair Access to Care Services (FACS) guidance.
For more information on the eligibility criteria, click here
If you cannot wait for an LA OT assessment, you can opt to get a private OT assessment; ensure they are fully qualified and a member of a recognised body, such as the British Association of Occupational Therapists (BAOT).
OTs can also provide you with equipment for your home; to find out how you do this, click here.
If you require major adaptations or more expensive equipment, this is the responsibility of the housing department. You may be required to pay something towards the cost of these items, or you may be able to apply for a Disabled Facilities Grant to help with the cost.
Children with a disability who are under 18 years can get a grant without their parents’ income being taken into account. Contact your local council for more information.
Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND)
If your child has SEND and you need support getting them into the correct school for their needs, contact the Local Authority (LA) and speak to the SEND team. The GOV.UK website has some useful information on SEND
The Children and Families Act 2014 gave LAs a statutory duty to produce a ‘Local Offer’ for children and young people with special educational needs and/or a disability (SEND) from 0 to 25 years.
You should be able to find the Local Offer on your local authority website or on the Local Offer website. The Department for Education (DfE) has published a useful SEND guide for parents and carers.
Take a look at the Health & Additional Needs pages of the AFF website.
Moving between countries within the UK
As Devolved Administrations, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland set their own policies and provide their own services in some areas.
For information about how living in these areas might compare to living in England, click here.
Leaving the Army from an overseas posting
If your soldier is looking to access their resettlement entitlement from their last tour of duty that is overseas, forward planning is even more crucial. As a family, you should consider the implications of serving overseas and trying to access resettlement at the same time.
UK-based Service leavers will access much of their resettlement and Career Transition Partnership support via their local Regional Resettlement Centre (RRC). There is also an RRC in Germany and one in Catterick that serves postings in Canada, Cyprus, Gibraltar, Naples, embassies and all other locations. Click here for more information.
Access to services are also more limited when serving in isolated appointments such as Defence Attaché or Loan Service. In these circumstances, your soldier is advised to start their resettlement preparation prior to deployment overseas. As a minimum they should look to attend a Career Transition Workshop (CTW).
For information and guidance about using Learning Credits and accessing resettlement whilst serving in remote overseas locations, you can contact the dedicated Individual Education & Resettlement Officer (IERO) based at 30 AEC Woolwich, Mr Peter Barnes, on 0208 781 374, firstname.lastname@example.org or the clerk, Mr Brian Sayer on 0208 781 3291, email@example.comBack to top
What is meant by ‘transition’?
In the context of the Army, ‘transition’ is the process soldiers and their families go through when the soldier is preparing to leave the Army.
Why is it important to think about transition now?
Amidst all the uncertainty of Service life, transition is the only certainty – one day your soldier WILL leave the Army. Our research shows that the earlier a family plans for their future, the less stressful transition is likely to be. It’s never too early!
While we know that our soldier will leave the Army one day, they might end up leaving sooner than we think, perhaps due to medical discharge. If you have started to think about life after the Army and make provision for it, unexpected doesn’t have to mean unplanned!
How is ‘transition’ different to ‘resettlement’?
Soldiers are entitled to various forms of support during their ‘resettlement’, which is a finite period leading up to and soon after their final date of Service. Your soldier can speak to their chain of command or Individual Education & Resettlement Officer (IERO) at any time to find out more about resettlement entitlement.
The only mandatory element of resettlement for a soldier is the Resettlement Advice Briefing (RAB), which is usually delivered by an IERO. The RAB is a comprehensive guide to what a soldier needs to consider once they have decided to leave the Army and without attending a RAB, a soldier can not access the Career Transition Partnership so it’s a vital first step in getting the support they’re entitled too.
Resettlement is just one part of transition. Transition is about a lot more than just your soldier’s first job after the Army.
What do I need to consider for my family’s transition?
There’s a lot to consider when planning for life after the Army and each family’s priorities will be different. Our research shows that involving family members in transition can only be a good thing. Most families will need to think about:
What support will my soldier get when they leave?
Soldiers are entitled to a raft of information, guidance and support through the Army, including a Resettlement Advice Brief and access to the Career Transition Partnership (CTP)
Exactly what they are entitled to will vary depending on things like how long they have served. A soldier’s chain of command and Individual Education and Resettlement officers (IEROs) will be able to signpost them to the right information and guide them through the process.
The AFF website provides a wealth of information on specific issues, such as housing, education and childcare, employment and training, health and Foreign & Commonwealth.
What support will our family get when my soldier leaves the Army?
There is very little guidance currently aimed specifically at families in transition. Many military charities extend their services to family members, so it is worth asking about your own situation if you are contacting a charity for help. Family members are encouraged to attend the JSHAO Civilian Housing Brief and the Financial Aspects of Resettlement Brief that soldiers are made aware of. More information about these can be found on the gov.uk and CTP websites.
SSAFA runs a Transition Mentoring scheme that is designed to support Service leavers and their families as they leave the Army. Family members can access this service in their own right or alongside their Service leaver. For more information about the scheme, click here or watch this video. Please note that the scheme is open to people outside of Catterick, to those who are not wounded, injured or sick, and family members too.
Where else can I find information, advice or support?
The AFF website contains lots of useful information and the pages above suggest links to other subject-specific sources of information, advice or support.
More general help with transition can also be found at: