How can we improve the Welfare provision for mobilisation?

Discussion in 'Army Reserve' started by Mr_McKay, Oct 1, 2005.

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  1. Going on from what Onahi2002 touched on in his post, I would like to use this to highlight good and bad at present, and what can be done to improve things?

    A couple of points.

    1. With a few notable exceptions, I think the welfare provision for those deployed is woeful. Wives and especially children are neglected. TA families are not necessarily service families and lack a lot of the support networks they would get in regular battalions. They feel themselves isolated and ignored. How about a card on the kids birthdays or a bunch of flowers for the missus? (My civvy employer managed this while I was away, but the TA did not!).

    2. Families Officers should be selected as carefully as those deploying. They should attend some formal training and be sensitive to the requirements of the role. Some units selected superb individuals, who were rightfully honoured, these good people leave a lasting legacy with the blokes and their families. They are key to making the whole thing work.

    3. Centralised events should be "family friendly". It is no good organising events on a midweek evening or expecting young mums to haul screaming kids all over the place to fit in with a regimental transport plan.

    4. We also need to ensure welfare accommodates the modern notion of family.

    5. The tracking of people attending post deployment debriefs is a little "hotch - potch", it needs to improve or we could be leaving ourselves open to all kinds of future trouble. Just because you've sat a group of blokes down, given them tea and biscuits, shown a couple of videos and asked them to fill out a questionnaire does not mean you've discharged your duty of care to them.

    6. Forgive my ignorance, but do we now as a TA wide SOP have to conduct an exit interview? If not it definately needs to be introduced.

    7. Last point. How many times recently have you heard someone citing "family pressures" as a reason for leaving? By including our families more into the life of the TA it will ensure that these pressures are eased, and could mean retaining rather than loosing that soldier.

    To the moderator - This is an important subject. I would appreciate it if you would deal "appropriately" with those who twist the posts intent. Thankyou.
  2. I think you've identified some very good areas for improvement and I'd agree with every word you've written. My take on this is that lack of funding is the the problem. The TA have traditionally required zero welfare funding and in todays budget driven climate its very difficult for anyone to shake some money loose to do something new with. The fact that overall we'd gain by improving retention does not show up on the balance sheet of any one individual - hence the problem. So how do we get the management to invest in this area ?
  3. Mr_McKay,

    Excellent post, summed up many of our concerns. The missus thinks shes a rock but broke down recently (while I was away on a course), welfare is very important to me and if I was being 100% fair on the women I love (as I know how she would be treated), I should leave the TA ASAP.
  4. msr

    msr LE

    Any sort of communication from the parent unit would be nice. Even replies to letters which have been sent to them.

  5. Hereby lies the problem.

    Akin to the posts on the "Let Down" thread, here we have atrocious examples of where the system simply isn't up to the mobilisation culture. Yet, despite this, we are being asked to mobilise in increasing numbers without the very fabric required to achieve it in a sustainable manner. By this I mean everything - from the pay and pensions, through to the employer support, the legislation, and the welfare. If I'd just beamed down from Venus (maybe I have?), I wouldn't credit this shambles with anything, yet we have achieved so much.

    Ultimately, in such an overt "cake and eat it" environment, it's all going to end in tears.

    Rebalancing as it stands simply isn't the answer. It's not quite rearranging the deckchairs on the Titanic, but it's close.
  6. As a view from a wife, I would imagine it depends on the personnel involved. My Hubby's CO was an old sweetheart during TELIC3. I had several calls to check-up on me, and info as it was available.
    If I had had to rely on the information provided in the mobilisation paperwork I would have felt quite adrift and lonely. There did not seem to be much in the way of advice/reassurrance

    As a TA wife I was the only person I knew in my posistion, trying to hold down a full-time job and care for a small child.
    If there had been any worries or problems it could have become quite a big deal in that situation.

    Good luck to those who are trying to change matters, as it looks like deployments may happen more often in the future. :(
  7. Sticks head down, awaits incoming.

    I'm a single bloke from a military family who, whilst interested in what I get up to on tour, aren't really interested in going to the family ging gangs that go on, especially when the cash from that comes out of my welfare package.

    Why should I pay for (for want of a better word) attached personnel's days out?

    I wasn't really that aggrieved about it, until my last operational tour's OWP suffered considerably, so people could have days out at various tourist attractions.

    I agree that comms between TAC and families should be good (not just a Families' officer's job, also up to PSAOs IMHO), but why should OWP suffer because of that?

    And secondly, could I have used any more abbreviations in that last sentence?
  8. First, im very pleased this has been taken seriously.
    Can i give one example.
    This is a fraction on top of all the other, but maybe a bit diiferent from the "welfare" that is being considered.

    Whilst i was on OP TELIC 3, My PSAO passed onto SkY NEWS and GMTV her details for an interview.
    Both arrived on our doorstep. My wife spoke of me, the two children , who were affected by my mobilisation and our family. She told them how commited i'd been over the last 12 years and that this was what i'd been waiting for. in the Interview she stated that she was looking for me coming home in may. (04)
    Now, i was called to my OP's room, in Basrah palace. i was told that i may be charged for my wife "breaching security"
    Can you emagine how destressed i was, in theater. how worried i was. that our PSI (a regular) has told me this.
    My point is this. Even if my wife had broke the security (which she didnt) i was very aware of a major gap in welfare.
    I believe, that the regular wives get "a brief" on what to say and what not to say to the media. My wife didnt. but she, and i, were in the fireing line. This is one example of TA welfare. and it caused much stress to us both.
  9. No-angel, I am indebted for your view. It adds a depth and humility that has been almost singularly lacking to date.

    Thank you.

    I am beginning to think that instead of Sabre, we need a similar organsiation simply for the other halves. Scabbard maybe.
  10. msr wrote:

    Hear, hear: in 11 months on Ops all I got from my parent Regiment was mess bills!
  11. I was not suggesting that we eat into an existing budget to finance any improvements. I think the arguement that you have to deprive one soldier of welfare to finance another is a little churlish to say the least.

    Selection and training of suitable personnel would cost nothing. Welfare officers have been mobilised in support, but I feel selection should be based on who is right for the job and that alone. Training should come from within the unit, surely there are enough PSAOs, QMs etc with quality experience to share with whoever is mobilised to fill the role. Not much of a cost implication there, just a little imagination and determination to get the job done well.

    TA families are not always military families. They do not have the knowledge base or support mechanisms, either formal or informal, to cope. Remember what we feel on tour and what they feel are two different things. Regiments do have a duty of care to those families. Again a phonecall, a birthday card and the occasional day out dont cost much. Outside affliated oragnisations can be tapped for increased welfare and freebies. It is important that the parent unit be seen to care.

    Modern notions of family do not always match what the army considers "normal". Instead of paying lip service to these facts the parent regiment needs to recognise that when people entrust a loved one to the army, they deserve to be looked after, no matter what the relationship or it's make up. I also think they are only too aware of the risks their loved one faces.

    Also remember partners and children give a awful lot to the TA outside of operations.
  12. That's great - but shouldn't those with families chuck in toward welfare packages that don't just make sure everyone's alright (phone call/letter once a week, social evening in the bar once a month along with extensive briefings by a families office to educate dependants about what their other halves are gettong up to in the sandpit) but go beyond that (heavily subsidised/parties/free trips out to tourist attractions)?

    I thought what went on in our battalion during our various deployments was great - I just don't see why the allowance that the government gave to make my company's time away more comfortable, wasn't spent on just that.
  13. A quid per family is not going to go far if your unit only as 10 blokes away.
    Let's get real, get off our a**e's and do something and stop whinging. We all go on about our "family unit's". Make them work too. Sadly, society today dictates that we should get everything for nothing.
    If you volunteer, as most do now (but don't tell her indoors or outdoors!!!!), do not forget your home commitment.

    Another bag please doctor. I hear shells falling!!!!
  14. Apologies for missing it, but where has anyone actually mentioned in this or another thread the Army announcement that as part of TA FAS, independent units will be funded in future for NRPS welfare staffing? I have heard about it myself, and believe the info is now in the public domain.
  15. OldSnowy

    OldSnowy LE Moderator Book Reviewer

    Tere is indeed funding for a Recruiting/Retention/Welfare Officer for TA Sub-Units. He/She will probably get a dozen other hats toi wear as well.

    In my experience, for Telic 1 there was minimal support, it got better for Telic 2, and by Telic 4 it was pretty good.

    Our welfare Officer = our PSAO was an ex-Regular Families OFficer, which helped immensely, and he did a wonderful job (and got a well deserved MBE for it).

    A few points to help the debate along -
    TA Families are, as has been pointed out, different from Reg ones.
    We don't live on a patch - we had families from my Coy alone spread over four counties.
    Many families have no idea of the Military - and why should they? MAny want nothing to do wit hthe social side, and so know no-one at all in the Company.
    Families do not know what support they will get - some never contact the Fam Officer at all, others call every day. It varies immensely.
    Funding MUST be found. We used our own Coy/Bn funds, and got some from the Army Welfare, but our Corps were pretty shameful in not wanting to pay towards us, as we aren't Regs (Why have I been paying Subs all these years then?).
    You need a team of people on call, including both sexes. A male cannot really call on a Wife on his own in these odd times.
    You need a dedicated vehicle, with money to run it. This was not the case early on, but I understand that things have improved.
    Don;t rely at all on the Unit you are attached to for support. We were attached to a Reg Bn based miles from our TA area, and they were frankly only worried about their own families (fair enough, really). My wife received one Bn Newsletter, which was of absolutley no use to her, as it did not mention the TA attachments at all (despite our making up nearl half those deployed by that time).

    Lessons have been learned, but most boil down to one thing - Money. Resources, Cash, allocation, whatever you want to call it. No money = unhappy Families.

    Oh, and if you are an individual called out, good luck! I was with one Officer who was called out (I think from the Watchkeeper Pool) whose wife received NO contact at all from the Army for the whole time he was away.