Further Information

A damning report by SSAFA The Armed Forces Charity says that young veterans feel undervalued by the society they return to after military service. The statistics, based upon a cohort of 1000 individuals who have been helped by SSAFA and other service charities, are a cause for concern:
  • 81% felt that US veterans were more respected than veterans in the UK
  • 75% felt that they were not as respected by society as our emergency services
  • 67% felt there was less respect for veterans when the UK was not in active conflict
  • 62% felt undervalued by society
The report, entitled The Nation’s Duty: challenging society’s disservice to a new generation of veterans makes a number of recommendations aimed to stem this discord:
  • A nationwide support and mentor service available to all service leavers
  • Launch a national Veterans ID card, supported by major retailers and businesses to provide incentives and discounts to recognise the contribution of veterans
  • Compulsory life skills training and financial advice for all serving military personnel
  • Promoting a savings culture in the Armed Forces
  • Extend the transition process to help veterans who need more support
  • An education programme for employers to help relate military qualifications to civilian qualifications to help businesses to value a veteran’s experience
On Facebook I have read differing responses to the report:

“Personally, since leaving I have had nothing but a positive reaction to my service by employers”

“I think most people appreciate and support our service personnel”

“All service personnel should be treated with respect”

“They should be looked after better”

Military service is unique.  Whilst serving, at home and overseas, you are given a reasonable standard of subsidised accommodation, good nutrition, free dental and medical care, subsidised travel, sports, plus, for most, travel to interesting and exciting far off places where, for much of the time, you are not coming under effective enemy fire.  Oh, and you get paid too! It’s a great life and I have never hesitated in recommending it to my nephews (much to their mothers’ displeasure) and my clients and their children.  Sadly however, the day will come when you have to hand in that ID card (or perhaps not, see above) and walk out through those gates for the last time, in your civvies with suitcase in hand.  The gate shuts behind you and really and truly, you’re on your own. Most veterans transition from military service well and are a success and it would be good to read more about those that do.  Unless you have been dismissed from service because of ill discipline, most get plenty of time to prepare for their leaving date and are given support with the process, including paid-for resettlement courses.  They will reflect upon their military service with great pride and affection and regularly meet up with their former oppos and burn the candle at both ends, long into the night.  These are the guys who have planned their exit and are enjoying life as a veteran. However, according to these findings, there are many who do not find civvie street nearly as welcoming.  They perhaps haven’t planned for life out of uniform nearly as well as the majority and suddenly find themselves without the benefits of military service that I have described and, just to pour salt on the wound, they also experience the heavy loss of comradeship and the security of their mates with whom they have gone through the good times, and bad.  If they haven’t secured a job before they do leave, that missing wage at the end of the month is a shock.  Some might also be injured, physically and mentally, or both and before long, they are penniless and broken. In my experience, both as a serving and a former soldier, and now a solicitor and a SSAFA caseworker, by far the greatest problem faced by our young veterans who leave military service to re-join the big wide world, is debt. We know that debt causes poverty and hardship and, it should be of no surprise to anyone to learn that debt is also one of the primary triggers of mental ill health.  I see in both my professional and voluntary work, far too many cases of veterans falling on very hard times and I believe that it is this cohort who would profit most from the excellent recommendations made by SSAFA. Finally, I would also like to see a survey of 1000 veterans who haven’t needed help from our service charities.  I believe you will get a different set of responses. Grant Evatt 28.06.18

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