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Adjusting to life on civvy street …
… can mean dealing with an entirely new set of challenges, says Vicky Blodwell, associate at Lime Solicitors
No matter what the circumstances surrounding departure from the military, some veterans describe leaving as a period of uncertainty and something they feel ill equipped to deal with. This is something we encounter when clients are medically discharged, but is also equally relevant to those who retire or choose to leave for personal reasons. You will have felt a sense of achievement and pride in serving your country, so what’s next? Who do you turn to for help?
Anyone who has ever been in the Armed Forces is used to a highly structured life, with every part of the day mapped out. Returning home, they are are faced with lots of choices and expanses of time to fill. It is important to try to set goals straight away and establish a new routine, although it will be very different. Having set meal times, planning what you will eat in advance, and when you will wake up and go to sleep, will help you feel more in control of each day.
You will have had everything organised for you, from rent to food to bills, while serving in the military. On leaving, it is important you set up a bank account and online banking so you do not fall behind with payments. If you need help and support doing that, your bank should be able to help.
A large part of being in the Armed Forces is those you are with – the sense of family and unity is one that those who have never served will just not understand. You are likely to have two types of friends – those who have been in the Armed Forces and those who have not. That will continue to be the case on civvy street.
Take the time to reconnect with friends who have not served. You will have other shared interests – you did before you joined the Armed Forces and will do now. Contact your local British Legion to see what groups are being run in your area, and make those connections with others that have left the Armed Forces as soon as possible. Meeting up and sharing your experiences with others will help you through those early stages of creating a routine and finding a pathway into the future.
Adjusting to life on civvy street is something that affects the whole family, and it can be helpful to approach any support with them alongside you. The more they understand, the more they can help you with the transition. We see in our work the love and eagerness of families to support their loved ones and this is very valuable.
Away from your family and friends, there are groups and charities that can help you as an individual, such as The Royal British Legion, Walking with the Wounded and SSAFA.
And don’t overlook talking to your GP. They may not have served themselves but will be able to signpost you to those that may be help and support you during the transition process.
It is important to bear in mind that most of those that leave the Armed Forces do go on to have a settled and happy life on civvy street. Accepting that it is going to be a challenge, and one that you can overcome with the right tools, will stand you in good stead.
If you are reading this and you have not yet experienced the transition, it is still worth understanding it – preparation is key.
Vicky qualified as a solicitor at a niche personal injury practice in the Midlands with a nationwide reach, where she worked for more than 10 years before joining Lime Solicitors in January 2019. Throughout her career, she has been privileged to act on behalf of those injured through no fault of their own, being welcomed into their family homes and becoming part of the team that helps them get back on track.
Vicky has a particularly strong emphasis on helping the whole family and making sure that everyone’s needs are accounted for when considering a settlement. She prides herself on being someone that clients can depend on and is there when they need her.
While dealing with clients who have sustained all kinds of injuries, from amputations to fractures, Vicky has a particular specialism in chronic pain and accidents involving pedestrians.
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