A Royal Navy sailor and his family (Picture: MOD).
The heads of the Armed Forces service charities have raised concerns about dispersed military families.
At a meeting of the Defence Select Committee, Labour MP Madeleine Moon asked whether dispersed families were being looked after well enough.
Anna Wright, CEO of the Naval Families Federation, said she was worried about the effect being posted away from family could have on service personnel:
“24% of the Armed Forces live away from the base,” Ms Wright told committee members.
“That’s 36% in the Naval service, so weekending is our thing. There’s very, very little support for families in the community.
“That’s not to say they’re whinging and moaning for it. But if things do go wrong and their partner’s away for nine months, it’s really tough.”
She continued, adding:
“My concern for the dispersed families is the amount of separation. So the best it gets is the weekending scenario. The rest of the time they’re deployed.
“At the moment I’m just meeting so many people whose relationships have broken down because they just never see their partner.
“I think part of the retention equation is lack of family time – that’s a real concern for me.”
Maria Lyle, director of the RAF Families Federation, said that whilst some families found being dispersed was a “really positive experience”, others felt more “isolated”.
She added that her organisation was compiling a report with “some relatively light touch ways that more support could be added.”
Louise Simpson, policy and research director at the Army Families Federation, added that she had concerns about “the welfare model that we’ve got and how that will apply” in relation to dispersed families.