Monday, 11 June 2012

Support for veterans and their families can be enhanced

'Many veterans make the move back into civilian life needing little or no support from government or third sector organisations. For some, however, resettlement is a fraught process for themselves and their families.

Researchers supported by University of Edinburgh and the CRFR listened to the views of more than 30 veterans from conflicts dating back 60 years about how their transition to civilian life can be best supported.

Those veterans recommended additional pre and post-discharge life skills training, more sharing of information across support services and a ‘triage service’ to enhance regular contact with veterans and assess their needs.

Many veterans said that they had received positive help and support since returning home, but there remain practical and attitude-based challenges, particularly for families, that have made some services less helpful than they could be. In particular, it was a tiring experience retelling their story time and again to various services.

With an estimated 22,400 people leaving the UK Armed Forces every year, coupled with further planned reductions and an uncertain economic climate, Associate Director of the CRFR Professor Linda McKie says it matters more than ever that the support structures for returned veterans are the best that can be provided.

“During deployment, specific support from within the army is available for families on a daily basis from the Ministry of Defence welfare and religious personnel, often in conjunction with third sector organisations.”

“While these groups provide activities and services for partners, children and relatives to support one another across the ranks, key aspects of this support diminish when the serving family member becomes a veteran.”

“This is despite the fact that the impact of operations can continue for decades, with the longer-term consequences for families post service rarely considered.”

Zoe Morrison, report co-author and veteran says:

"While an enormous effort has been made over recent years to improve and enhance the resettlement process, we should be constantly striving to improve the system. The experience should be a positive one for everyone, including the families, who leaves the services. We need to do more to ensure that no one misses out on the support which is available. Assistance and help after leaving will become more and more difficult to achieve as the geographic coverage of service bases and locations is reduced as a result of the present round of reductions. Careful thought needs to be given to how this might affect those who have served and their families."

Prof McKie concludes “These concerns place a lot of pressure on some veterans and their families. Resettlement is a process for all the family, be they immediate or extended members, as it is people, rather than places, that represent home.”

Download the reserach briefing, no.59: 'Veterans and their families'

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