Make a successful transition to civvy street: a practical guide
When it comes to your resettlement, a number of organisations exist to provide support and guidance, says Hannah Swarbrick, an Associate in the Military Claims Team at specialist law firm Bolt Burdon Kemp, but pinning down the right information can seem an overwhelming task. With this is mind, she has written this article to address some of the FAQs raised by her clients …
Despite recent moves back towards normality, we are still living in uncertain times. Many of us have struggled to cope with the adjustments we’ve been required to make in our day-to-day lives during the pandemic – and it’s not over yet. Change can be daunting, but it can also be an opportunity. In my role working with Service personnel and veterans I am often struck by the incredible resilience shown by those whose lives have been turned upside down by illness or injury. This is especially the case where someone has been medically discharged and is facing the difficult transition from the regimented environment of the military to life on civvy street. There are all sorts of practical considerations, and many of the veterans I speak to have told me that they wish they had been better prepared for life outside the military.
A number of organisations and initiatives exist to provide you with support and guidance, but sometimes even just trying to find the information you need can be overwhelming. With this is mind, in this article I have tried to address some of the questions that are most commonly raised by my clients:
- Where am I going to live?
- How am I going to find work?
- How will I manage to pay my bills and provide security for my family?
- What can I do if I have been injured, and what support is out there?
When you leave the Armed Forces you will have a maximum of 12 months before you will need to leave your living quarters. Your options for housing may be as follows:
- apply for social housing
- rent from a private landlord
- purchase your own property.
For further advice on civilian housing options you can contact the Joint Service Housing Advice Office. In addition, the charity Shelter provides support and guidance on private renting and applying for social housing.
The Career Transition Partnership (CTP) provides resettlement support and guidance on finding civilian employment.
If you would like to complete an academic course or vocational qualification to allow you to work in a particular trade, then you should check whether you are eligible for financial support in the form of Enhanced Learning Credits. Further details can be found on the ELCAS website or in our in-depth features here on the Quest website.
There are a number of financial considerations for anyone leaving the military.
You may have an entitlement to an immediate or deferred pension, depending on how long you have served for and the circumstances in which you have left (e.g. whether you have been medically discharged). Veterans UK should write to inform you of your pension entitlement. Details of the various pension schemes that are available to Service personnel can be found here.
Managing your finances can be challenging, particularly if you are facing a period out of work following a medical discharge. If you are concerned about your financial circumstances then it is important to get advice. Money Advice Service and Citizens Advice are two helpful resources.
If you are unable to work because of injury or illness then you may be able to apply for state benefits. You can use the government’s benefits calculator to work out which benefits you are eligible for.
Living with an injury
If you have been medically discharged due to illness or injury, then there are a number of steps you might want to consider taking.
- It is important that any treatment you were receiving while you were serving can continue. You should register with a local GP so you can receive prescription medications and access NHS services. To find out how to register with a GP surgery, visit the NHS website.
- If you need to access mental health support then you may want to contact The Veterans’ Mental Health Transition, Intervention and Liaison (TIL) Service, which is a free NHS mental health service for all ex-serving members of the UK Armed Forces and Service personnel who are making the transition to civilian life, including reservists.
- If you need medical aids or equipment then these can be obtained through your local authority. There are also a number of charities that might be able to help, including The Royal British Legion, SSAFA, Blesma and ABF The Soldiers’ Charity.
- You should also check whether you are entitled to financial compensation under the Armed Forces Compensation Scheme.
- If you have any concerns about the circumstances in which you were injured or are unhappy about the medical treatment you received, then it is important that you take legal advice as soon as possible.
To sum up …
Taking steps early to prepare for life outside the military can help smooth the transition process. It is important to remember that help is out there. It is my hope that everyone leaving the military is able to access the support they need to make a success of their new life on civvy street.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Hannah is an Associate Solicitor in the military team at Bolt Burdon Kemp, having joined the firm in September 2015. She works on a wide variety of complex and high-value personal injury and clinical negligence claims on behalf of Service personnel and their families. She has significant experience in personal injury claims involving training accidents, defective work equipment, noise-induced hearing loss, harassment and stress at work.
Hannah is passionate about supporting her clients, many of whom have suffered life-changing injuries. She has an understanding of the issues that affect Service personnel whose careers have been ended by injury, and the process of transition from military to civilian life.