Veterans’ Gateway – Helping to Pave the Way for Forces Families Leaving the Services
The transition period between the point of activating your ‘7 clicks to freedom’ to actually handing in your Military ID card on your final day in the Armed Forces can be an unsettling time for any service leaver, but what about the impact it has on your family?
As much as you can try and mentally prepare for the fact you’ll no longer be in uniform, have the freedom to choose
Whilst you look ahead to wearing ‘normal’ work clothes in an array of colours in anything but military
Veterans’ Gateway was launched in 2017 following Lord Ashcroft’s Veteran’s Transition review. With over 2,000 military charities available to the Armed Forces Community there was a clear need for
Since the service launched, there have been over 22,000 contacts made via the 24/7 helpline, website and social media. It’s even free to access from overseas so that any veteran in any corner of the world can get the help they need. The areas that people have most needed support
Chris, one of the Helpline Advisors, joined the Royal Air Force in 1985 and served almost 10 years before being medically discharged. He admits it took him a lot of time to be able to settle back into civilian life. He says “I have been in the same position as a lot of people who are calling us here at Veterans Gateway so I can use my personal experiences to point them in the right direction for the best help.”
This spring, Veterans’ Gateway aims to raise awareness of the support available to veterans’ family members. In the latest report ‘Lifting the Lid on Transition’ which was conducted by the three Families Federations and funded by the Forces In Mind Trust, 51% of those surveyed didn’t know where to go for welfare services. A further 72% didn’t know where to go for spousal employment, two of the many aspects of transitioning that information and support is available on from Veterans’ Gateway.
Chief Executive, FiMT Air Vice-Marshal Ray Lock CBE says that “Within this important report there are many findings and recommendations that will be familiar to anyone with an interest in
This report, the first of its kind, has highlighted the need for better information and understanding of what life can be like after the armed forces so that both the service leaver and family members are prepared for the realities of civvy street. With this in mind, Veterans’ Gateway has come up with a simple way to ensure that service leavers and their families are prepared for some of the challenges transitioning brings in the form of PLAN EARLY because, let’s face it, where would the military be without a good acronym?
The website can be the basis for some initial research into what you’ll need to do and how to go about it. There are various user guides on how to register for local Health care and Education and advice on how to plan on where to live and calculating how much it’ll cost you. There are online tick lists available so that your transition isn’t one big daunting to-do list that’s buried underneath your diary brimming with leaving drinks and mess dining out nights. Instead, you’ll be able to take a new approach, talk to your family, involve them in the process and help them with their thoughts and concerns. The report highlighted that families want to be involved and to help with the service leaver’s transition.
“If anything could come out of this survey please let it be help and preparation for the whole family on what to expect and the emotional cycle of change that happens.”
“Everyone in the family is affected by transition…the financial impact affected all of us”
Whilst you were serving and maybe away on deployment, knowing your family is settled and doing ok at home, often allows you to do the best possible job and this is no different when it comes to resettlement. Approaching resettlement like a new posting, involving your family and ensuring they are factored into plans will help in the long run. School places, healthcare and the local community will all need to be considered so that everyone’s needs are met. It’s easy to take certain elements of service life for granted with schools, nurseries, medical centres and even community groups all just moments away but, outside of the wire, it’s these amenities which you need around you and choosing them can be challenging. If you team this with a new job that involves a new commute, suddenly everything that was on your doorstep is a little bit more difficult to access.
Veterans’ Gateway has a wealth of experts who can be available on the phone to talk about how to register for school places, medical and dental practises as well as accessing support through local authorities. If you have any concerns over specialist support or services, the team at Veterans’ Gateway can assist with this. There are over 30 partner charities and organisations that veterans and their families can be referred to so that they get the range of support that they might need.
66% of respondents to the survey thought their quality of life would be better after transition, of course, the reality of life outside the wire will depend entirely on individual circumstances, but a good question to ask is do you have an idea of what your life might look like before you leave so that you can prepare yourself? Veterans’ Gateway has a number of tools that can help you from budget calculators, information on the realities of renting or applying for a mortgage so that you can make the best decisions possible.
Finding a gym that doesn’t cost a large amount after a career of unlimited free gym membership may be on your priority list, but be prepared for the unexpected challenges like finding new social networks. One of the biggest changes will be not being surrounded by ‘instant military friends’ who are in the room next to you, in the bar and always on hand. Instead, you’ll be finding your feet amongst a new community. Veterans’ Gateway can help identify breakfast clubs and other community focal points so you feel you have a go to
Kate McCullough, Transition Liaison, Army Families Federation:
“The project was a fascinating piece of work that allowed us a unique insight into families’ experiences of transition. We are so grateful to the families who took part in our case studies and who responded to the surveys, many of whom had already left the Services: they had nothing to gain for their own transition journeys by sharing their views, but were generous enough to tell us all about what challenges they’d faced and the support they needed, which has already proved beneficial to future families in transition. We weren’t massively surprised by some of the research findings but it was interesting to see that most of the evidence was relevant across all three Services. It has been hugely rewarding to see so much of what we published in Lifting the Lid on Transition adopted by a number of organisations, including the MOD with the emerging Holistic Defence Transition Policy and the Veterans’ Gateway, which is taking some very practical, tangible steps to make raise awareness of their services amongst families.”
Veterans’ Gateway is available to you whether you’re in day one of your new life on civvy street or if in weeks, months or even years down the line you are in need of help and advice. Whether there is a simple question you need answering, or you have a situation that may need specialist support, contact the service and our experts will do the rest.
To contact Veterans’ Gateway:
Call: 0808 802 1212 visit: www.veteransgateway.org.uk or text: 81212