Families share views on overseas assignments

Our Understanding Overseas 2021 survey asked families to share their views about the benefits and challenges of overseas assignments.

We heard from families on range of assignments, including individual, Defence engagement, loan service and unit moves from 24 countries around the world.

The survey found that:

  • Families do not receive enough accurate information about their overseas assignment. 

Families told us that there is no one, clear source of up-to-date information, meaning they had to find out information from multiple and potentially inaccurate sources.

One family told us, “We thought we had received sufficient information until we arrived here and nothing was correct. We had to figure out everything for ourselves from buying groceries to enrolling kids at school and medical care.”

  • Families are unable to access clear information on spousal employment overseas.

A large majority of families (85%) said the spouse or partner did not receive enough information to make a decision about maintaining their employment overseas.

One family commented: “There is no information on how one can continue to work as a freelance or remote worker regarding tax, insurance, visa etc.  No one seems to know the answers and three people I know had to quit jobs when they moved over.”

  • Families had difficulty accessing appropriate childcare.

Only 31% of families were satisfied with being able to access appropriate childcare overseas. Issues included opening hours that did not cover dual serving couples’ duty hours and waiting lists.

One family said: “The childcare was very good but the limited hours made it difficult to consider certain types of work.”

  • Families felt uninformed on issues related to Brexit.

A total of 81% of families stated that Brexit had had a significantly negative or negative impact on their family’s life overseas.

Despite these challenges, however, 73% of families said they would undertake another overseas assignment.

What’s next?

AFF is working with the chain of command and the MOD to ensure they understand the evidence and views from Army families.

For more information on the survey results, take a look at our brief to Army command and our snapshot infographic.



    Short toured by six months with four months notice . Today we were informed that our overseas posting was likely to be cut short by six months. I am enrolled on a collage course so I am devastated, how can this be acceptable? . Overseas postings are a huge undertaking for families and we go in good faith . This does nothing to add to the appeal of taking Up said postings. I just wondered if AFF was aware of this practice and if it’s the norm?
    Feeling thoroughly fed up, and now disillusioned .

    Hi Jane I have sent your comment to our Overseas Team who will get back to you via email at their earliest opportunity.

    I would be interested to see if there was an MOD paper / study on the impacts of EU Exit on our people and their families overseas.

    Can AFF help get a copy?
    If there wasn’t, why not?

    Hi Alison

    AFF’s overseas team have liaised with the chain of command to raise issues and queries from families related to changes following the exit from the EU. Our Overseas Manager will follow up with the MOD whether there is a paper on the impact on Army families overseas and ensure that the evidence from our survey feeds into any future discussions about this issue.

    The next steps only state that the chain of command will be informed but doesn’t state what steps will be taken to actually improve things, such as poor communication.

    I’ve never been on an Army pad before but haven’t found it *terrible* overseas. I’m mostly disapppointed that there is no support for transporting pets to overseas locations. I’ll be having a child soon but for 5 years our dog was our equivalent and I love her just as much. Financially it’s going to cost us around £2000 to bring her home. I’m not expecting the army to fork out £2000 but wondering if there is some way that airlines can work with military transporting pets – its under unusual circumstances – so it’s a) less stressful and b) more supported – financially or otherwise. Even working with the government to change the law on transportation would help massively – I.e. they can fly out as excess baggage but can’t fly back to the UK. Also it’s frustrating that they can’t travel in a military vehicle despite being transported in a crate.

    Hi Hannah

    Thank you for your comment. Pets has always been an issue raised in AFF’s Overseas Survey but as current policy is that “the MOD takes no responsibility for the relocation or welfare of pets or associated costs” then this is something that is outside of scope for AFF to influence with the MOD.

    There are a number of airlines that provide pet travel assistance and these can be found doing an internet search “pet travel”.

    Overseas postings are great, but not when you arrive, to a house that hasn’t been touched for over 18 months!!! My husband took it over on a Saturday to be told that the cleaners would be there on the Thursday!!!! Not good enough at all, a filthy house, a 14 day report that ended up being huge!!! Very very disappointed

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