Leaving the military is a significant life change that can come with a range of challenges and adjustments. It can feel daunting and even overwhelming to go through this transition and it is not unusual for veterans to find themselves struggling when in this situation which is why countless organisations are dedicated to making sure armed forces personnel do not feel alone through this period of change. Oftentimes when leaving the military, it is not just a job you are leaving, it is a home and lifestyle too. This guide is packed full of advice and resources to help you make the transition into civilian life as easy as possible. There is a lot of support available to veterans and you need to be aware of it and make use of it if you feel that it will benefit you.
Housing Advice & Assistance
Leaving the military may also mean moving out of service family accommodation and finding your own housing. This is a big life change and moving house is something many of us find stressful anyway. There is a low rate of homeownership in the armed forces and housing struggles are not uncommon but there is a range of organisations that can provide you with key advice and support when moving house:
- Forces Help to Buy – this is a government scheme designed to help servicemen and servicewomen get on the property ladder. The scheme allows armed forces personnel to borrow up to 50% of their salary (interest-free) to buy their first home or move to another property on assignment or as the needs of their family change. It is important to note that applications to this scheme must be made with at least six months of active duty remaining. Similarly, many private estate agents offer discount schemes for armed forces.
- Social Housing – there is usually a waiting list for social housing so it is best to put in an application as early as possible. There are restrictions on who is eligible and each council will have its own rules.
- Emergency Housing – if you’re homeless or about to lose your home there is an emergency housing scheme that can provide short-term accommodation. Veterans Aid also provides immediate hostel accommodation to veterans in need.
- Haig Housing – this trust is dedicated to helping house ex-service people and/or their dependents. The process is similar to the local council’s housing process but Haig’s focus is solely on housing veterans which may help open more doors during your transition or when you need a helping hand. If you are eligible to apply, an application form is available on their website and can be sent to Haig Housing along with supporting documents.
- Stoll –Stoll provides affordable, quality housing and support services to vulnerable and disabled veterans.
- Army Families Federation (AFF) – the AFF supports army families worldwide and is a great organization if you need advice or support in a range of areas including housing, employment, finances and health. Another hub of useful information regarding housing options for veterans is Citizens Advice.
- British Legion – the British Legion provides lifelong support to serving and ex-service personnel and their families. They provide advice and guidance and are on hand to support military personnel, veterans and their families through a variety of challenges including housing.
Training and Employment Support for Veterans
Many employers value the skills that veterans bring to their businesses so you should be able to find work after leaving the armed forces. If you’re unsure about work, another possible option that will always remain open is returning to full-time education. If you are looking for work, many businesses also offer work schemes for former armed forces personnel which can help you transition. Here are some common schemes that can help you find employment:
- Career Transition Partnership (CTP) – this is a partnership between the Ministry of Defence and Right Management, it helps ex-military personnel market themselves confidently and source appropriate job vacancies. This is a free recruitment service that is available for up to two years after leaving the military.
- Hire a Hero – this charity supports the transition from the armed forces into civilian life, they help make employment easier by connecting ex-military members with potential employers.
- Veteran Employment Transition Support (VETS) – VETS provide guidance, resources and mentors to help veterans progress their career outside of the Armed Forces.
- Troops to Teachers – this undergraduate funding scheme allows armed forces veterans to train as teachers.
- 4ExMilitary – this private recruitment organization helps ex servicemen and servicewomen find relevant employment opportunities.
- Armed Forces Champions – this is a scheme where veterans are posted at Jobcentres across the UK to aid in finding employment and supporting ex-forces members.
- RFEA – RFEA provides job and training opportunities as well as career advice to ex-military personnel.
Support for Disabled Veterans
Scholarships can help veterans re-train and create a new path for themselves outside of the armed forces. As disabled veterans may find it more difficult to secure work, there are some specialist scholarships that may be of interest:
- The Open University – offers 50 scholarships each year with fees waived as part of the Disabled Veterans’ Scholarship.
- Ex-Forces Courses – this site allows you to easily search courses to find the right option for you so you can get training for the best careers out of the military.
Mental Health & Welfare
One in five veterans is believed to suffer from mental illness. The most common mental health problems are alcohol problems, depression and anxiety disorder. There is a range of organisations that offer mental health and welfare support specifically to veterans, some armed forces personnel prefer this as they feel an organisation that works with veterans understands their situation better and can support them in a way that works for them. Some fantastic mental health and welfare resources include:
- Mind – this charity provides information, support and advice to anyone experiencing a mental health problem. They have experience in all mental health concerns and can help support you through struggles.
- NHS – the NHS offers veteran mental health services including NHS Veterans’ Mental Health Transition, Intervention and Liaison Service (TILS) and Complex Treatment Service (CTS).
- Combat Stress – this organisation offers specialist treatment and support to veterans dealing with mental health issues such as PTSD, anxiety and depression. Combat Stress also has a 24 hour helpline for veterans and their families: 08001381619.
- PTSD Resolution – this charity provides counselling for former armed forces, reservists and families. They also offer free, immediate help during office hours 03003020551 (for help outside of office hours it is recommended you call the Samaritans on 116123).
- Veterans NHS Wales – this is a specialised service for veterans in Wales who are experiencing mental health difficulties related to their service.
- Big White Wall – this is an online service that includes one-to-one therapy, advice and guided support programs and a support network that gives people the opportunity to have peer to peer anonymous conversations allowing people to get better together.
A small but growing number of veterans find it difficult to transition to civilian life and addiction is something that some veterans may experience. It is important to seek help for substance addiction as it is an illness and it can be treated. In addition to the general addiction support organisations, there are also veteran-specific programs available that may be able to offer a greater understanding of the situation and circumstances you are experiencing.
- Alcoholics Anonymous – AA is free to join and gives people a place to share their experiences with each other, this can help solve common problems and aid recovery. There are AA meetings across the UK. Similarly, if you are concerned about a drug problem Narcotics Anonymous is a fantastic option that also has meetings throughout the UK.
- UK Addiction Treatment Centres – these centres offer medically supervised detox programmes and rehabilitation programmes designed for each individual’s needs and circumstances.
- Addiction Helper – this site provides lots of information about military alcohol and drug rehab for veterans. Addiction Helper offers advice, insight and information about treatment options. Rehab Recovery also offers resources for veterans.
- Tom Harrison House – this is a specialist military veteran addiction recovery centre in the UK.
Support for Injured Veterans
Concluding military service as a result of injury can be a difficult situation that may require lifestyle adjustments and additional support. An injury should not prevent you from living a fulfilled life. There are many charities and organisations that are dedicated to supporting injured veterans:
- Walking with the Wounded – this organization supports injured veterans, empowering them to regain their independence through employment.
- Supporting Wounded Veterans – this is a UK based charity that supports wounded or injured veterans in rebuilding their futures through a development programme and a mentoring and job-finding programme.
- Help for Heroes – The Very Seriously Injured Veterans Programme is support offered by Help for Heroes to improve quality of life for veterans and their families.
- Veterans With Dogs – this organization trains and provides assistance dogs for current and former members of the British Armed Forces with service-related mental health conditions. The goal is to improve quality of life and help veterans live independent lives.
- HorseBack UK – this charity empowers service personnel and veterans suffering from life-changing injuries and PTSD and assists them with their recovery.
- Blesma – Blesma provides support to veterans who have suffered life-changing limb loss or sight loss. They aim to assist veterans to lead independent lives.
Assistance for Carers
In some cases, loved ones become full-time carers for injured veterans and there are a few support services available for them too. Caring for someone can be stressful and difficult at times, it is important to take care of yourself too so don’t hesitate to make use of the available carer support services:
- Action for Carers – this is a Surrey-based organization that offers specialist information and support to people caring for a veteran or armed forces family member.
- Carer’s Allowance – the government offer a carer’s allowance that can provide £67.25 a week for those who are eligible.
- Veterans’ Gateway – the Veterans’ Gateway offers lots of information and resources for carers as well as veterans.
Support for Blind Veterans
Blindness and sight loss can be challenging, particularly when going through the transition from the armed forces to civilian life. There are a number of charities that offer advice and support to blind veterans:
- Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB) – this sight loss charity has a large community and provides help and support for blind and partially sighted people.
- Blind Veterans UK – this organization supports veterans who are now living with sight loss, helping them to live fulfilling, independent lives.
- Disability Grants – there are several grants listed here that are available for blind and visually impaired people. These grants can provide financial assistance for a range of uses from education, training, assisted technology, household items, pension and more.
- Living Made Easy – this site provides a range of equipment that can be used to make living with blindness or sight loss easier to manage.
Serving in the armed forces typically results in early retirement which could lead to financial struggles, make sure you know what is available to you and make use of the assistance you are eligible to claim.
- British Legion – The British Legion offers financial support in the form of grants. These grants can offer urgent assistance that can help you get through a temporary crisis. They have a veteran’s medical funds programme to support veterans with serious physical injury, they can help you get funding to adapt your home and can offer financial assistance to help you find work too.
- Turn2Us – Turn2Us offer an easy way for you to find out what benefits you are eligible to and what grants may be available.
- Veterans Charity – this charity can provide immediate needs support to veterans, they supply essential items such as food, clothing, utility meter credit, household good, appliances and phones.
- Help for Heroes – Help for Heroes offers grants for veterans who have suffered illness or injury while serving. They also have a quick reaction fund for providing urgent financial support as well as grants for a variety of situations.
- StepChange – StepChange provides debt advice free of charge to help people overcome financial problems.
- SSAFA – this organisation offers a range of assistance services including financial planning support.
- Government Compensation – if you were injured while serving in the armed forces you may be eligible to claim government compensation.
- British Veterans Recognition Card – this card gives you access to a wide range of discounts.
Armed Forced Pensions Explained
Armed Forces Pensions are a well-known perk of working in the armed forces. All members of the armed forces are automatically enrolled in the pension scheme. If you would like to know more about the pension and what is involved take a look at the resources below:
- Pension Calculator – this calculator can provide a guideline so you know what financial compensation you will be able to get.
- Forces Pension Society – if you have any questions or concerns about your pension, Forces Pension Society is a trusted source for independent advice.
- LITRG – if you are unsure about tax and your pension, LITRG provides a lot of useful information and answers some frequently asked questions.
Support Aimed at RAF Veterans
There are a couple of groups that are dedicated to supporting RAF veterans including:
- RAF Association – this charity assists RAF veterans by providing confidential support services. They have a dedicated welfare team that can help you find a solution to your challenges.
- RAF Benevolent Fund – this is the RAF’s leading welfare charity, they support the RAF family in a range of ways including welfare breaks, grants, specialist advice on benefits and support with care needs.
- RAF Hive – the Hive service provides information and welfare referral to the armed service community.
Support Aimed at Navy Veterans
There are also a few groups that offer support to those leaving the Royal Navy, this can help naval veterans cope with the transition from the sea to civilian life.
- Royal Navy & Royal Marines Charity – the RNRMC supports serving personnel, veterans and their families. They offer counselling sessions for free, individual grants, bereavement grants and more.
- Seafarers’ Advice & Information Line (SAIL) – this is a citizen’s advice service just for seafarers. They can give free advice on benefits, debt, housing and more. They offer help to anyone who has served in the Royal Navy or Royal Marines.
- The Association of Royal Navy Officers – this is a membership organisation that offers a range of benefits and services to their members. This includes financial assistance, lifelong support and enhancing serving officers and veteran’s quality of life.
In Summary: Support for Veterans
Transitioning to civilian life is not easy but there are many organisations and support services available that are dedicated to making the changes as easy to deal with as possible. It is essential to know that you are not alone and being aware of who you can turn to when you need a helping hand is incredibly important. We have included a vast range of websites, organisations and information in this guide, but if you are in need of a quick link to a key advice site or organisation check out the sites below to find more information:
If you are in search of immediate mental health support you can contact Combat Stress on 08001381619, PTSD Resolution is available for immediate help during office hours on 03003020551 and the Samaritans are available anytime on 116123.