The European Joint Support Unit (EJSU) HQ provides tri-Service support to 3,500 Service personnel and families, in over 80 locations across Europe. The main headquarters is based at SHAPE, which is in Mons, Belgium. EJSU has 16 National Support Elements (NSE) with locally based EJSU staff while the remaining units are supported centrally from EJSU HQ.
Covering such a diverse area, it is impossible to provide specific information for all EJSU supported locations, so the information below is a broad outline of areas for you to consider.
Most people would view the standard of living in Europe as equal to, if not better than, the UK; but AFF’s experience is that some of the locations may present challenges for some families.
Whilst the EJSU endeavours to match UK standards in healthcare, education, welfare and family support, there are some forms of support that are not possible to provide in certain locations.
As a CO of EJSU said: “It is best to come with an expeditionary mindset” to make the most of your assignment and time in Europe.
If you are at the stage of considering a family posting to EJSU, please do get in touch so AFF can provide you with the information and contacts you need to make an informed choice. email@example.com
EJSU HQ has recently launched EJSU.net, an information gateway providing details on living in Europe and Turkey. Through the site families can access helpful guides to most locations.
Once in receipt of your assignment order, you should be able to access a web link to the EJSU welcome pack. Not only does this provide key information on your posting, it also includes all the forms you will need to complete prior to booking your removals.
Families have a responsibility to declare their circumstances, medical and educational needs, that may require additional support, to ensure that these needs can be met in their assignment area prior to accepting their assignment.
Check them today! You are responsible for ensuring that everyone in your family has a valid passport and in some cases a valid visa. You can claim back the cost of your passport for all immediate family members where a renewal or initial application is necessary; your soldier’s Unit Admin Office (UAO) will guide you.
If someone in your family doesn’t have a British passport, you must ensure they have the right travel documentation for the country that you are posted to. Visit www.ukba.homeoffice.gov.uk for all you need to know, or try the Foreign & Commonwealth section of the AFF website.
In EJSU, all Service Family Accommodation (SFA) allocations are processed by DIO. You must complete an MOD e1132 (application to occupy Service Family Accommodation) at the earliest opportunity. This will enable DIO to assign suitable housing for you and your family. Please note:
Opportunities to gain local employment, or undertake training and educational courses, are limited especially in the more isolated areas. So plan what you will do with your time.
Education provision varies across EJSU supported areas. In some locations, MOD schools are used. Where MOD schools are not available, international schools are used where possible. However, parents should be aware that some of the international schools offered will not be suitable for all children and there is no English speaking provision in some locations.
The only EJSU locations that have access to MOD schools are SHAPE, Brunssum, Naples and Ramstein.
Using a local school can bring other holistic benefits to a child; it exposes them to a different culture and community and gives them the opportunity to learn a different language at a young age.
There are no MOD schools providing a secondary education in EJSU. Secondary education is covered by the use of international schools, where possible, which either provide the facilities for children to complete the International Baccalaureate or IGCSE’s. There can be quite a considerable amount of travel involved for children to get to these schools, and in many locations there is no access to a school bus, which will mean that you will be responsible for taking and collecting your child from school.
Childcare for children up to three years old is available through the local host nation provision or the American Child Development Centres (CDC) in the larger NATO bases. Please be aware that host nation childcare will differ from UK standards and will, more than likely, not be in English. The American provision, where available, is full time only and there is a priority waiting list dependant on the working status of both parents.
For 3 to 4-year-olds the provision varies across the EJSU locations, but in general, families should be able to access 15 hours of childcare per week for 38 weeks free of charge as per UK entitlement as well as the 30-hour provision if eligible. Both entitlements may be restricted by local provision in some EJSU locations.
Childcare for 3 to 4-year-olds will either be through MOD-provided settings or through access to the MOD Overseas Nursery Authority (ONA). The ONA allows parents of 3 to 4-year-olds to apply for reimbursement of nursery fees. More information can be found here.
Currently healthcare is provided to Service personnel and their families through either the SSAFA LLP contract or through the Healix Medical Contract. From 1 October 2020 the SSAFA LLP contract will end and all secondary healthcare in EJSU will be managed through Healix. In locations, such as SHAPE, Ramstein, Naples and Brussels, UK military clinics provide primary care. In other locations it is sourced from local providers using host nation public health services or the private sector. Secondary care is provided locally in all locations.
It is essential that all medical screening forms are completed for each family member as soon as possible prior to arrival to ensure that you are eligible for medical treatment in the particular EJSU location. If you are posted to a location that is covered by Healix, you will also need to ensure that you and your family have completed all the necessary Healix paperwork as well (which will mean repeating some of the information from the MOD medical screening).
On leaving your current NHS GP Practice (if you are UK based) all families are required to register with the Central European Practice (based in SHAPE). This ensures that medical oversight is provided by the EJSU UK medical team if needed and a summary of your medical records is accessible during your posting.
All dental treatment is delivered through host nation provision (apart from at SHAPE and Brussels where this is a UK Dental Practice). Where there is a local NSE they will be able to advise and help with sourcing local provision. Your family will be entitled to standard NHS treatment but any treatment beyond this must have UK approval first. All boarding school children within EJSU (including SHAPE and Brussels) must be registered with a UK dentist as there is no entitlement for host nation dentistry during their holidays (apart from emergency treatment).
Families planning on bringing pets with them to EJSU supported locations should be aware that they will need to comply with local law as well as UK regulations in taking their pets abroad and then back to the UK. Please also be aware that post Brexit it is expected that the moving of pets will become more complicated and involve much longer lead-times. You are advised to make yourself fully aware of the timings and requirements.
You should also be aware that not all SFA provided in Europe is suitable for large pets. Advice should be sought from the proposed assignment location.
Belgium – Brussels, SHAPE
Bulgaria – Sofia
Estonia – Tallinn
France – 17 locations including Lille
Germany – 25 locations including Geilenkirchen, Goch, Mönchengladbach, Münster, Oberammergau, Ramstein, Ulm, Wesel
Greece – Thessaloniki
Italy – 12 locations including Milan, Naples, Poggio, Rome
Latvia – Riga
Lithuania – Vilnius
Netherlands – 8 locations including Brunssum
Norway – 4 locations including Stavanger
Poland – Bydgoszcz, Elblag, Szczecin
Portugal – 4 locations including Lisbon
Romania – Bucharest
Slovakia – Bratislava
Spain – 7 locations including Madrid, Torrejon
Turkey – Ankara, Istanbul, Izmir