Like death and taxes, one thing in military life is certain – someday, you soldier will leave the Forces, and your planning should already have started.
What would you do if your soldier left with short notice, perhaps due to medical discharge? With early planning, unexpected doesn’t have to mean unplanned!
Following a two-year project researching the support available to families re-joining civvy street, and working closely with such families, we’ve learned so much about what changes are needed to put leaving the military, or ‘transition’, firmly on the to-do list.
Changes such as:
- A culture shift amongst everyone within the Forces to reflect that leaving can affect the family as much as the soldier.
- Planning well in advance for your soldier’s exit from the military becoming the ‘norm’.
- Support available for those leaving the military being more accessible to families, i.e. not just available on military systems.
- Better marketing of the support that is already available to families… you just don’t realise it!
- Recognising the importance of the wellbeing of soldiers and their families who are leaving the military.
- Ensuring the Armed Forces Covenant explicitly recognises those leaving the Forces as military families.
- Encouraging families to be more pro-active about re-joining civvy street, equipping themselves with the knowledge and tools to make their transition successful.
The importance of family
A culture change is much-needed to reflect the fact that, when your soldier leaves the Forces… that means you, the family, do too! Seems a simple concept, but we found that lots of the support available for soldiers either isn’t available to families or isn’t obviously accessible.
It’s about so much more than your soldier finding a new job. For instance, where will you live? What will you do for money? Where will the kids go to school? Ideally, questions like these should be on every family’s lips from day one of your soldier’s Service.
From beginning to end
Planning your soldier’s exit from the Forces needn’t be a shock to the system. Our research shows that some things to help smooth the way could include:
- Making sure families are aware of the benefits of buying a property BEFORE you leave the Forces.
- More transparency about how long it can realistically take for you soldier’s pension entitlement to come though (hint: it won’t be in your account on their last day!).
- Ensuring families are aware that Service Pupil Premium is available in England for your child’s school for up to six years after leaving the Forces.
What can you do now?
Not sure where to start when planning your life after the Army? We suggest you take a look at our ‘transition’ page, whatever stage in their career your soldier is at. We’ve also produced a handy summary of our research, here.
POSTED ON 25 JAN 2019