Anonymous personnel

COMMENT: Adjusting To Civilian Life After A Military Career

Anonymous personnel

A study released this month suggests more needs to be done in supporting transitioning to civilian life ​​​​​(Picture: PA).

By Claire Withey, Senior Solicitor in the Military Claims Department at Bolt Burdon Kemp

Some veterans can face a long and often difficult transition when they complete their military service and return to 'civvy street'.

They may have spent their formative years and much of their adult lives serving Queen and country.

Pride and sense of achievement can be experienced at such an important role, but for some it comes at a price, which becomes all the more apparent when they return to civilian life.

The transition is one which the veteran and their families face together.

This is something which we too often see first-hand through the experiences of our clients who have suffered physical or mental injuries during their military careers.

Many are medically discharged and experience an unexpected end to their careers, which can make the transition even more difficult.

But is enough support available to veterans and their families during this crucial time?

Anonymous British soldier

The Forces in Mind Trust recently conducted important research into whether enough support is being offered to families of those transitioning from military to civilian life.

The study reveals that the transition to civilian life is complex and that it covers six key areas: housing, health, education and children, employment, finances and well-being.

Some who leave the forces have to not only to secure alternative civilian employment - which can be an alien concept, especially for those who have served a full military career - but also to look for new homes for their families and potentially new schools for their children.

In many respects, it is like starting afresh for the entire family.

An increase in advanced planning is crucial and those leaving the Armed Forces should be offered earlier advice about the options available.

The Naval, Army and RAF Families Federations who were responsible for publishing the report highlighted the need for further, improved research.

Some who have served on operational tours may carry the physical, mental and emotional scars of doing so for life.

Those who struggle may leave the forces a different person, and their injuries may make them difficult to live with.

Families will often face new challenges in addition to readjusting from the unique life situation they experienced as a military family.

The impact is far-reaching.

Anonymous British soldiers

The transition affects the entire family unit, and the research highlights that more needs to be done to support the children of those who have served.

There are no medals for those who stay at home and whilst there are a number of military charities who offer support for those returning to civilian life, the families of those who have served should not be forgotten.

For some of these families the battle is only just beginning and without appropriate support, the consequences for them can be devastating.

There is a new play currently showing in London’s West End called 'Soldier On' which highlights the struggles faced when an individual transitions from military to civilian life.

It is hoped awareness of the issues military families face will be raised and in turn lead to an earlier, easier and more supportive transition for all involved.

Claire Withey is a Senior Solicitor in the Military Claims Team at Bolt Burdon Kemp (

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