Life after the military can sometimes present a real challange for some leaving the Armed Forces and for those who struggle to adjust to a life on 'civvy street'.
This hard-hitting movie 'Change Step' aims to explain some of the unique problems that can arise if former service members do not seek help and to show them ways in which they can get assistance with their transition.
It was Wiltshire Council, alongside its neighbouring authorities, that had the idea to launch a new website and this film to provide support to the military community in the South West and to promote what the Armed Forces Covenant can do to help.
Change Step was written by Royal Navy veteran, Dee Chilton. Since being medically discharged from the services, she has carved out a career as a screenwriter. Dee said:
“In my own writing, it’s important to me to portray all uniformed characters with empathy and understanding, and as realistically as possible.
“I’ve sensed lately that PTSD is increasingly being used as a shortcut to on screen military character flaws and motivations, and feel this can create an incorrect audience perception that all military people have it.
“Yes, it’s crucial that those who do suffer from PTSD are identified and supported, but most service personnel do not have that.
“However, some service leavers can struggle to adjust to change during transition back to civilian life. Those that do, need to recognise it and deal with it early before it leads to bigger issues. That was the idea behind this story.”
Her film illustrates some of the challenges faced by service personnel and their families during and after transition and can be used as a training resource to help raise awareness in organisations or at an individual level.
The new website provides information for the whole military community in the South West, including accessing help through the Veterans and Families Service Directory.
The initiative, led by Wiltshire Council, Include Bristol City, Cornwall, Devon, Gloucestershire County Council, North Somerset and Somerset. They are all working together to improve delivery of the Armed Forces Covenant, to raise awareness and promote understanding to help benefit military communities.
In addition to access to the directory, the partnership will also routinely update the website with local organisations and agencies that support the military community.
Baroness Scott of Bybrook, OBE, Leader of Wiltshire Council said:
“Wiltshire benefits from its strong military in the county and we want to give something back to recognise they are an important part of our community.
"These are excellent initiatives which will deepen understanding and help ensure people have access to the support they need across the region.”
Cllr Rod Williams, Chair of the Somerset Armed Forces Covenant Partnership said:
“I welcome this new film (made in Somerset) and website. They should raise awareness of the immense contribution Armed Forces veterans can make to everything we do.
“But some of these veterans need extra help to find their feet outside the Services.
“It is in the interest of all of us to take advantage of their character skills and abilities.
“This short film should be enjoyable and educational for all of us and the website will be an invaluable source signposting where help and support can be found for those to whom we owe so much.”
Playing the lead role in the film is former Royal Marine Commando, Tip Cullen. He said:
“Service people are not different from people in our society, but a sizeable section of the Armed Forces, like me, will have been exposed to intense and traumatic experiences during recent operations.
“This exposure and experience can exacerbate daily challenges.
“Support and guidance through the Armed Forces Covenant may provide a lifeline to members of our community.”
Wiltshire has reaffirmed its commitment to the Armed Forces Covenant - This is to ensure the council, businesses, the public and voluntary sector work with the military, to provide help and advice to the Armed Forces community.