Update on My PhD Research about Army Veterans

Update on my research.

My study of ex 22 year soldiers gathers momentum. I have now interviewed or received biographies from 50 participants. Some common themes emerge. The term ‘veteran’ is almost universally disliked. Most Ex boys (but not all) who joined at 15 say they WOULD re-enlist now in the light of current conflicts but of those enlisting later, most WOULD NOT. Many felt that the army has changed so much that they would not now want to join.

The resettlement service attracts much the same comments now as it did in the 1960’s. Most participants did something themselves before they were discharged to pave the way for a successful transition to civilian life including buying their own home or signing up for some form of part time instruction or training.

A large proportion were offered and refused ‘last minute’ attempts by the army to get them to stay on, often on limited continuance. Without exception all expressed the sentiment that their time in the army had been a great experience.

A large majority were disparaging of civilian work ethic, clock watching and institutionalised skiving, “Slow down son, you’ve done a week’s work already and it’s only 12 o’clock.” A few participants expressed dismay at the lack of interest in their qualifications and experience by related government agencies or departments and it seems clear that a lot of invested value is lost to these organisations.

Participants reported that some potential employees take into account service pensions and reduce salary accordingly and, as a result find that the ex service candidate goes elsewhere. It is clear that where employers have no military experience, conceptions of the army are still based on media stereotypes of screaming sergeant majors and mindless ‘squaddies’ marching up and down a tarmac square.

None of the participants appear to have suffered as a result of their service and saw the end of their engagement as a life stage from which they had moved on. Starting out in civilian life at the age of 40 was found by most to have been a challenge but one which was largely overcome but their wealth of experience and people skills.

Very few of the participants had taken up, what, according to the literature, are the usual ex service occupations such as security but had succeeded in a wide range of interesting employments.

All participants expressed enjoyment at the opportunity to tell their stories. My study and analysis of how 22 year veterans handled their transition from military to civilian society continues as I seek to tease out more subtle factors related to this unique population. I am still able to accept new participants so if you are interested in contributing to this academic research and you did complete 22 years army service please get in touch via this site.

Jim McDermott MSc. University of Leicester

It is great to see that some one takes an intrest in our thoughts, i am approaching quickly the end of my 22 and at the moment am looking forward to leaving, but will let you know nearer the time if this is still the same.



"Whilst I note your PhD is about those who succeed, what about those who don't?"

Good question. If you are really interested I can send you a list of literature covering the topic of ex service people who have not succeeded, become ill, homeless, unable to sustain relationships, suffer from PTSD for example. The literature on this topic runs to literaly thousands of documents. The reason I am looking at those who have been successful is because a. very little research has been done in this area and b. I want to see if there are any specific factors which lead to success and which can be generalised across the population of those in transition from a military to a civilian society.

Well done so far Jim.

Research looks interesting, would like to think that some of the findings could somehow find it's way back into the military system and be used to tailor/confirm/help the whole resettlement process, i.e. Catch the potential poor resettler and turn them into successes (if you know what I mean!)

If you're still after more more fluffy pigs PM me as I left 2.5 years ago after serving 22 years.

Similar threads