A veteran who has suffered PTSD and homelessness after leaving the military is now promoting a training hub backed by a Government skills agency.
Veteran Jonathan Petrice, a former Fusilier and one of the founding tutors who came up with the idea to run the course, faced a difficult transition to Civvy Street after leaving the armed forces but says his experiences have helped him understand how to offer support to other veterans as they transition to civilian life and work.
He is launching a course and 'veteran's hub' in Nottingham that is offering support and training to veterans to help them find work.
The training from the Veterans Employment Transition Support (VETS) organisation, which is backed by the Education and Skills Funding Agency, is running training sessions known as the Security Pathway from June 30 to July 16 under a scheme run by veterans for veterans including Mr Petrice.
VETS has teamed up with skills and training business PeoplePlus to provide the training. The course includes Security Industry Authority Training at the end of which an SIA licence will be issued free of charge.
To be eligible veterans must be in receipt of benefits or earning less than £17,000 a year.
The course is supported by Forest Forest, part of Nottingham Forest Community Trust and Nottingham Forest Football Club's project to tackle social isolation among veterans.
As a veteran himself who has suffered from PTSD, Mr Petrice said that he understands that a comprehensive and individual approach is key.
He describes the hub as a “one-stop shop” for veterans to come together to support each other through transition.
Since the course is run by veterans themselves, he said they can better recognise the needs of other veterans and work with them towards finding a workable solution.
Mr Petrice said he understands from personal experience what it is like to “slip through the net” after leaving the military. He added:
“When you're actually in civvy street, it's difficult to have the right assistance transition into appropriate employment.”
After serving 18 years with the 1st Fusiliers, he was diagnosed with PTSD and bipolar in 2021. A year later he was discharged.
He said that having his military career come to an abrupt end made the transition period difficult.
Following marriage difficulties, the veteran became homeless, living in his car at first and then and then at a hostel for four months.
It was not until a friend pointed out that he had transferable teaching skills that he gained in the military that lead him to seek a career in the employment training sector.
He believes that having the right support at the time would have prevented needless suffering and got him into employment sooner. He is now passionate about helping other veterans utilise their transferable skills outside of the military.
He hopes that, if this program works well within the Nottingham area, then it will be rolled out nationwide.
The upcoming training focuses on careers in the security sector, but, as a leading training provider, partner organisation PeoplePlus also offers a range of other employability pathways.
This includes pathways into logistics, construction, customer service, and manufacturing that run throughout the year.
After completion of training, there is also an opportunity to seek employment in other industries.
Mr Petrice said: “Because we work in the employability sector, we actually have employers waiting to interview veterans at the end of the programs.”
There is an open-door policy operated at the centre in Nottingham where veterans can come in for a coffee at any time “to realise you are not alone”. It does not matter who you are or where you served or for how long, veterans of all ages are welcome at any time.
The primary focus is getting service leavers into fulfilling employment, but the wider idea according to Jonathan is to create a welcoming veterans hub - a place to socialise and feel supported. This includes IT support for those who may need it as well as coffee mornings, comedy nights and day trips