Veterans' Transition Review

napier

LE
Moderator
Kit Reviewer
#1
Veterans' Transition Review

An independent review has been set up to look at the whole area of service personnel making the transition from the Forces to civilian life. As part of that, this sub forum has been set up to to engage with people who are going through or have been through the transition, to help us understand from the user's perspective what works and what doesn't, where the gaps are, what if anything needs to change, and so on. At this stage we are interested in capturing thoughts and perceptions. If anything useful comes of this (and yes, we are doing far more than just sticking a forum on ARRSE) at a later stage we may set up surveys to drill down into detail. These may require you to let us know a bit of your service history (it will be completely in confidence), e.g. how long in the Services, what branch, rank and job on leaving, how long ago you left. The review is tri-service and as this is predominantly an Army website I will be linking threads to Rum Ration, PPRUNE, Once a Marine, e-Goat, etc. to draw some of our cousins in to contribute. I understand that in doing this I'm sticking my head above the parapet for all you snipers out there, but this is an important review and ARRSE is potentially a very good source of useful info so please contribute in a positive way. If you wish to approach the review directly, you can go to Welcome to the Veterans' Transition Review website

To prompt discussion, I'd like to throw a few questions out there:

Preparation and advice

Thinking back to the day you announced you were leaving (or were told you were leaving), what was the process like from that point? What courses/training/advice were you offered? Did you have time to make use of them?
If you did, what did you think was worthwhile and what was not? (Why not?) Did it turn out to be useful?
Can you think of anything that, looking back, you think "I wish someone had given me some advice about that" or I wish there had been a session on that"?
We're you eligible for the full resettlement package, with access to the Career Transition Partnership? What did that consist of? How useful did you find it?
Which bits were the most useful, and which were irrelevant? Were there any gaps which in hindsight you would have found it useful to have advice on?
When you finally left, what were the biggest differences in life? Did you find them hard to get used to? Did they become a problem?

Getting a job

How easy or difficult did you find it to get your first job after you left? Was it through the CTP or another route? Was it through connections of your own or did you apply in the usual way?
What was the attitude of employers towards your military experience - did they see it as a positive or a negative?
What were the biggest barriers? [e.g. Lack of commercial experience, misconceptions about what Service personnel are like...?]
Did you have qualifications from the Forces that employs recognised? Did anyone have qualifications or experience that would have enabled you to do a civilian job you had applied for, but which the employer didn't recognise?
In retrospect, did you go into the right job? How long did you stay in the first job? We've head that people leaving the Forces quite often underestimate what they could do outside, or employers underestimate them, so they start off in jobs that are below what they could really do. Is there any truth in that?

Housing

When you left, did you have somewhere to live lined up? Did you already have your own home? If you had been in quarters, how easy was it to find somewhere?
Did anyone have any trouble getting accommodation? Were the authorities any help? Did it make any difference to them that you had been in the Forces?

Health

How easy was it to find a GP or a dentist? What were the problems?
Did anyone have a health problem resulting from their Service that still needed attention? How was that dealt with once you left? Did the GP know/help?

Military charities

Has anyone had any help or advice from military charities, regimental associations etc? Which ones? How useful have they been?
There are apparently something like 2,000 Forces charities. Would you know where to go if you needed help with something?

Other people

Does anyone know of people who have had a tough time since leaving (obviously don't name names). What problems have they had? What would have helped, if anything?
You often hear that a high proportion of the prison population, or the homeless, are ex-military people. What do you think when you hear that - do you think it's something to do with the system, and that more could be done by the Government or the Forces to stop it happening, or do you tend to think that these people would probably have ended up in trouble anyway and the Forces aren't really responsible?
At the moment, as you know, the longer you serve the more help you get to make the transition. Is that right? There is a bit of a debate going on at the moment about this: some argue that the longer serving people usually do quite well, while the ones who really need help (and are more likely to end up in trouble with the law) are the Early Service Leavers who have nothing much to go back to but get very little in terms of resettlement help. What do you think about that? Of the resources available, should more be devoted to Early Service Leavers or saved for those who have given more time to the Services?

Final points

As you probably know, the point of the Armed Forces Covenant is to try and ensure that Service personnel and former personnel are not disadvantaged as a result of hang been in the Forces. Other than the stuff above, can you think of any ways in which you or people you served with have been disadvantaged? What could be done to make sure that doesn't happen in future? [e.g. Credit, mortgages, mobile phone contracts, schools, health care...]
Overall, do you oh think being in the Forces has helped you get on in life since you left, or has it been a hindrance?
Any other points you want to make?

Thanks very much.
 
E

EScotia

Guest
#2
Having been a regular (18+ yrs), FTRS (FC 6+ yrs) and NRPS (7+ yrs) with gaps in between, are you purely interested in the experience of regular to civvy or the wider transition experience?
 

napier

LE
Moderator
Kit Reviewer
#3
With the increasing use of reserves and the flexibility envisaged by the upcoming NEM I think all experiences are relevant. We are grouping our initial research around 4 main pillars: Education, Employment, Health and Housing - plus a catch-all of welfare. At this stage the funnel is pretty wide - we'll refine later once we have zeroed in on the key issues.
 

Bowmore_Assassin

MIA
Moderator
Book Reviewer
#4
Hi,

I left on Ph 2 redundancy in Dec 12 as a volunteer.

I will happily answer all of your questions but I am assuming the same ones are asked on the website ? Writing an essay on ARRSE is not where I want to be !


Posted from the ARRSE Mobile app (iOS or Android)
 

napier

LE
Moderator
Kit Reviewer
#5
The website is not particularly interactive, although it does allow you to post comments. If possible, I'd ask people to post on here where possible in order to kick off a few discussions which I can then split off into separate threads.
 
#6
I signed off just before Xmas so am currently enjoying the benefits of the full resettlement package. So far key observations are:

  • Actually getting confirmation on JPA that my PVR had been approved involved a surprisingly large amount of effort. This included numerous phone calls and emails between myself, the admin team here and APC
  • Getting access to a stage 2 resettlement interview at the AEC also involved more work than I was expecting.
  • The CTW I attended was very good and I'm looking forward to some of the other events.
 
E

EScotia

Guest
#7
1. Leaving on Options for change

The unit I was attached to (2 Sigs) provided excellent admin & financial advice on redundancy packages, you could pop in any-time as they had staff set aside to answer all queries those on redundancy may have had. They ran the redundancy calculator which could even tell you which was the best date to leave for pension or lump sum reasons or the median point which helped tremendously. I received an OK resettlement briefing at Catterick, was handed a list of resettlement courses but few of them were even remotely suitable and those that were suitable were fully subscribed. On looking back I think a briefing on housing availability and the employment situation in the area I'd decided to settle in would have been a good thing as it could have enabled me to better target those employers I may have had a chance of being employed by.

The hardest things to get used to were trying to find out information for myself, learning how to use the job centre and what it could/would do for you. Finding a doctor was easy, finding a dentist not so easy.

I got my first interview before I left and it was with Group 4 as a Custody Officer. I passed the psychometric testing with the highest score out of 50 applicants on the day, was interviewed by a tiffy who'd left on the first phase of redundancy who told me I'd been accepted, got measured for uniform and 3 weeks later got told I had been found not suitable. I later got told by a mate who did get selected but turned it down that I was better qualified for the interviewers job as fleet manager and he'd feared I'd take his job over because of my qualifications and experience!

I got another chance with Thysen Engineering as their engineering manager near Pontefract. On my interview with the board (undertaken in a massive boardroom with the biggest table I've ever seen with three men opposite me) one of the directors actually questioned my knowledge of engineering saying that "the army doesn't need engineers as it just runs through the woods wearing combats and shooting guns"! I came 2nd out of 5 and only because the guy that got the job could better demonstrate the managing of budgets, having just come from a budgeting (not engineering) job.

My first job came after 6 months and hundreds of applications, most of which weren't acknowledged, and came through the RFEA office in Hull and was for inspecting Toyota's being shipped out of Grimsby. Both of us (the other guy was also REME) were made redundant about 10 months later as we had virtually stopped the damage to cars on port of exit so they moved the jobs to port(s) of entry.

I got my next job 7 months later through the job centre but resigned to go to a much better paid job (3 months) which again came through the job centre. Again I resigned from this job to move to a better paid job (Leconfield) and resigned from this one for the same reasons about 10 months later. I resigned from this job (Prison Service) to go on FTRS (FC) which was about 6 years after redundancy from the army.

Looking at the jobs I applied for, jobs I was interviewed for and jobs I was employed at I'd say initially I considered jobs I knew I could do based on my experience(s) over 18 years in the army. It seemed to me however that if you got through the sift and were lucky enough to be interviewed, it was difficult to crack the "you can't have done that in the army" mentality. In the Hull area it was also (certainly at the time) difficult to gain employment in the fields best suited to my quals & exp if you couldn't demonstrate employment in another local company in similar work and would always lose out to people who could.

Housing wasn't a problem as I'd planned ahead and bought my own house, moving my family into it when Options was first announced and seeing the writing on the wall.

In the 3 years or so I was employed by the Prison Service I was never made aware of any ex servicemen other than many of my fellow prison officers. If there is a significant ex service personnel population in prisons then maybe that is something the Home Office (or whatever it is called this week) could pay SSAFA to get engaged with on welfare, housing, benefits and employment on release.

2. Leaving after 6 years FTRS (FC).

When I went on FTRS in 1999 there was no entitlement or provision for resettlement on leaving. Once I learned through the grapevine that all our IPT officers (inc the DIPTL) at Wilton were all leaving and, not surprisingly had gained employment with related employers, I looked into the resettlement qualifying criteria and wrote to HQ Land asking why there was no provision for FTRS (FC) that fulfilled the same criteria as regular soldiers. After a few weeks I received a letter informing me that as I had raised the issue it had been looked at and the decision was that those meeting the appropriate criteria could attend the 3 day workshop. I know of others who have also attended since, but no-one as far as I'm aware has qualified for courses.

On my return to civvy street I went to the local job centre to register as unemployed and for my NI stamp. They refused to accept I had been employed on a contract which had ended and insisted I had made myself un-employed so I could not get unemployment benefit and did not even qualify for free school meals for my youngest child.

Luckily enough before I left FTRS I had applied for an NRPS post that had just been created and then received a telephone call the second week of unemployment asking me to come up to 51 Bde for an interview the following week which I did and was offered the job! I sold my house and re-located the family after getting through my probation year at my own expense as there was no provision for re-location expenses for NRPS.

3. Leaving after 7 years NRPS

NRPS has no entitlement to resettlement, despite the potential for people to be employed for 20 years. This can create problems for those serving so long as there are people who do not/cannot plan for their future on leaving and need/want to carry on working. Obviously with the demise of NRPS this will disappear but there are significant numbers that, at the moment at least, have many years in and many still to serve.

As people on here may be well aware, I was (eventually) medically discharged after 7 years following a serious leg injury sustained at work. I received no help or advice from my unit, was not recorded on WISMIS, and was basically ignored for 3 years until my medical discharge. I thought at the time the lack of advice and consideration was a personal thing and was quite depressed by the way I'd been treated but since my leaving both military and civilian staff who have left for pastures new have been treated in a similar fashion (apart from those who had ingratiated themselves with the unit CoC that is).

As my wife, and to a limited amount myself, are involved with SSAFA I can say that many ex-service personnel in my local area use them as the support of first choice. The Black Watch Association are excellent at supporting their veterans and bereaved families and the REME Welfare staff at Arborfield have been very supportive to me and other bereaved families.

There are unfortunately many ex service personnel who abuse the support SSAFA provides, partly because they are "blaggers" and partly because SSAFA are a non-judgemental organisation and therefore try to help everyone despite years of welfare support to certain individuals.

Whereas I think the info on the SPVA website has improved markedly in the last few years I do believe it can be better. Below is a link from their site which provides tremendous info on organisations and associations and is an example of good info provision:

Ex Service Organisations and Registered Charities
 

napier

LE
Moderator
Kit Reviewer
#8
Thanks ES & BCO for your candour. Does anyone have a view on the wide variety of service providers out there (charity, local govt, NHS. etc.)?
 
E

EScotia

Guest
#9
Apart from my comments about SSAFA my only other personal views on Charity & Welfare supporting agencies is the excellent support & advice from The Royal British Legion (Scotland) I received during my battles against SPVA about my AFCS application and War Pensions.

The Pensions and Welfare Officer (NR) based at the HQ in Edinburgh is approachable, knowledgeable and supported me excellently at my 1st Tier Tribunal (and they were very fair too, particularly as they found in my favour :), but I'd say that even if they didn't). He still takes my calls on my War Pension battles and is very supportive.

The Royal British Legion in England however didn't even bother their arrse to offer advice or assistance to questions I asked them regarding case histories on NISHL apart from a "speak to RBL(S) and here's their email address comment. NISHL claims are almost bound to fail due to a change in legislation designed to limit the number of claims. In effect if your claim is rejected, the legislation allows you to challenge the decision at Tribunal but the Tribunal does not have the authority to find in your favour against the legislation! Absolutely barking, particularly as the MoD use only a part of the audiology testing available to make an assessment of your hearing which is conducted by non-audiologists!

I found the process for applying for DLA quite confusing and the DWP staff very unhelpful to say the least. Having filled in the form and submitted it I found it was rejected as it had become superseded by the time it got to an assessor! I then filled out the new on-line form and that got rejected. I talked to the DWP about in on the phone as this was all new to me and they took all my info down and promptly rejected my application again so, fuming by this time, I went to my first Tribunal. The Tribunal was very well managed and found unanimously in my favour :)clap:). I learned a very important lesson whilst sat in the waiting room before my case was heard though; I was the only one their with NO representation. Afterwards I went on to find out there was a great number of organisations out there are who are available to either represent you at Tribunal or support you and that IS important.

Edited to add:

I really must get my priorities right. When posting the above I missed the Brazil goal and only just caught Frank Lampards winner :boogie:
 

napier

LE
Moderator
Kit Reviewer
#10
ES, thanks for your contribution to the VTR website.
 
#11
Ladies and Gents. Can you please help Napier out?

If you do, I'll post my story. You may fall asleep, but hey ho.
 
#12
Served 15 yrs REME left options 3 as WO2.

Since, been employed , been self employed , run a business broad scope of things
Preparation

Do your OWN research. Don't expect some jonny educator to have experience. Take everything you can get and more. British Army background is seen by many organisations as a great training background. At least you will not be a sickie drain.

Decision: What do I like or not like doing? If you have never been in an office job and enjoyed it you will not enjoy it in civ street. I saw many people try to move into "administration" jobs only to see them turn manic in a few weeks. If you are a hands on man then get a hands on job.

Problems
If you cannot do something, do not be afraid to say so. I'm not saying don't have a can-do attitude but if you screw up in civ life then you will not get any points for trying. If you have any faults then know them and get them addressed when you are still in. I know of several cases of alchos who tried to keep it up on the outside, all of them ended in tears.

Education.
Training is far more important for private companies, not knocking the NVQ system but the only people it impresses are public concern NVQ assessors. Always always be prepared to learn new skills, even if it costs you to do so.

Housing
I think we all know the answer to that one, start when you are in your 20s. You will not get on a council list, you will either not get a mortgage when you are 40 or you will have to slave to get it paid off. If you want to spend your life in a rental place with some dodgy landlord then up to you.

Family reliance.
Mrs Barnowl collapsed with a MI when I had been a 6 day Civvy. She got better after a bit but basically expect the unexpected. Don't expect the Mrs to support you later, it is well known that women get iller than men in their 40s onward.

Medical
Doctor no problem, just book an appointment to see your local GP. He will get your medical records and advise you of what a health hazzard you are to yourself. Dentist, try to get one who will take on Denplan patients, make sure you get all the work done in the mouth whilst you are still serving and with a bit of luck your Dental surgeon will be able to recommend you someone in your new area. If you just rock up at a dental practice you will be charged a fortune.

Service attitude.
Remember when you were a recruit and you were told to keep your mouth shut? Do it in Civ div because there are people out to **** you and there is no mess to have a quiet word in. Don't put yourself in the firing line. You can be sacked for swearing at someone or in the wrong earshot.

Assistance
Today there is practically none, unless you have been seriously injured. Be fair, if you have your health when you leave think about the plight of someone blinded or an amputee. If you really need assistance then make sure you have offered to help first. That way your particular plight will become known and you will not be a stranger to the system.

Loads more I'm sure but this should give you a start in your next phase of life.
 
#13
It took longer than I had imagined to get a job, or more applications at any rate. I was offered two jobs before the end of my resettlement but with a family to support I became anxious towards the end when I may (in different circumstances) have had a gap in earnings to plug from savings. I was genuinely surprised at how many companies just did not respond to applications.

The point above by T_Barnowl re: workplace language is very valid. It is wider than swearing - inappropriate language in the civilian world may be completely fine in the Army so it may come as a shock to find yourself on the wrong end of a disciplinary hearing.

CTP was good for CV writing and it sets you up well enough but, as you will be for the rest of your life, you are on your own for the mostpart
 
#14
I'll give my 2p. I left in 1989 but am in a small way able to offer some work experience for service leavers. I have been trying to get someone in the MOD's outplacement organisation and got no where. I have been by ex military outplacement organisation that the outsourced service provided by whoever the MOD has given the contract to are useless. Thus far I agree having had no response or acknowledgement of my communications.
 
#15
I'll give my 2p. I left in 1989 but am in a small way able to offer some work experience for service leavers. I have been trying to get someone in the MOD's outplacement organisation and got no where. I have been by ex military outplacement organisation that the outsourced service provided by whoever the MOD has given the contract to are useless. Thus far I agree having had no response or acknowledgement of my communications.
You must be nearing retirement by now? Don't you think you have flogged a dead horse for long enough?
 
#17
Work experience counts for shag in some industries, the ones we had were for the most part up and away as soon as something came along and basically in short I have never been a fan of taking someone on then hoofing them at a predetermined time. The ones we hoofed were usually a go home and take some garden leave because youare not suitable to work here. The only ex servicemen I had the pleasure to introduce were for permanent positions.
In this day and age with so many professional networks, who is really going to rely upon a place finder organisation that is almost certainly commission based quota fill.
 
#18
I left at the end of 99 after 22 years. I realise that's a long time ago, but some of my experience may be relevant.

To be frank, I had little faith in the resettlement system and had taken steps during my last four years to pick up some qualifications and something of a network in my proposed area of activity; this proved to be sensible when, with four offers in my pocket, Mrs Glad and I attended a rather surreal interview with an RAEC Lt Col (retd) who explained that I should be looking for something that, with my pension, would make my pay packet up to roughly what I'd been on.

I courteously explained that the lowest offer I'd had was 40K plus all the usual benefits and thank you very much. He actually called me a liar and I had to show him one of the offer letters to calm him down.

This isn't to big myself up, it's to demonstrate that we classically undersell ourselves and that the things we think we bring to the table in civilian life - you know, smartness, punctuality, control, discipline, all that good stuff - actually aren't that valued once you get away from the more manual end of things.

The soft skills you acquire as a SNCO, WO or mid-ranking officer, the ability to thrive on chaos, the talent for keeping calm, rational and, if you're that way inclined, humorous - these are attractive. The ability to exert influence, rather than authority, that's useful.

Generally, back in the day, unless you wanted to learn to be a bricklayer, the CTP as then was was pretty useless. I used my resettlement time to do short-term consulting assignments to gain experience and actually worked for my new employer for three months in the run up to discharge.

If there is one thing I think is desperately needed for anyone leaving the army, it's an introduction to business finance and how internal management accounts work - especially in a fee-earning organisation, you'll be effectively illiterate unless you understand these things.
 
#19
I expected the leaving process to be much harder than it turned out to be.

I joined at 18, and left after 21 years, I already had a job to go to, so much of the resettlement package wasn't really necessary. I found that the people in the chain between PVR and finally being discharged were doing a good job and the information I wanted was available from both my resettlement clerk and the Education Centre.

I was really only limited by my own questions (I really didn't bottom out ELC's while I could).

I was single, so housing was down to me, easy enough I moved, had 2 weeks in a hotel and found a place to rent. References were easy enough, deposit paid and job done.

I had a great boss at the time who let me go early, so the whole experience was entirely positive. Everyone I dealt with gave me exactly what information I asked for. This was just ahead of Tranche 1 being announced. I got the feeling that people cared about giving me the best start in the outside world they could, and really appreciated the sentiment.

Post Army, a few random mistakes I made which may assist others. To echo some posts on here, pay. Civvis seem to negotiate pay packages, and if you aim low, you get low. Whatever you go in on often doesn't rise again unless you change jobs so make sure you go as high as you think you can muster. Ignore your pension, you shouldn't position with an employer taking that into account. I found the whole process here very difficult and awkward, having never had another job I just didn't know how to approach it and not sound necky. Bottom line here was they settled on double their original offer, which I would never have pushed had it not been for good advice from someone else who had gone before. I work with and for SNCO's and they all earn more than me, your rank in the Army doesn't translate to your civvi job. Aside form them taking the piss out of me whenever they can at the start, rank never comes up again.

To concur with others posts, swearing and Army humour doesn't translate to civvi world. I work with almost all ex mil and outside our small group I really have to watch the way i word things. Civvi's don't do direct, nor do they do responsibility for their mistakes.

Just my opinion, and i really don't want to offend, but my experiences since suggest that the transition process isn't going to get you the job you want, that's all down to you. Plan plan plan, as early as you can, and in as much depth, for what you want to do next. Unless you are very lucky you're are going to create the employment yourself rather than rely on job centre or newspaper ads. I tried to look at what I could offer and follow that, rather than change completely my path.

That said, I agree with Glad, business finance and how shares and companies derive their value is essential if you go that way, You really do have to get to grips with it if you want to stay in the job.

I also had to emigrate, which was a side effect of the job, and not really relevant to the thread, and I didn't expect the Army to help with that. Being willing to leave the UK increases your employability tremendously, and so too the salary.
 
#20
I found the resettlement process very supportive when I left in 2009.
I was fortunate to be in a desk bound job with more Civil Servants than Military in my Team. That gave me a good grounding in acceptable behaviour/language around civvies (even though the majority of them were ex Mil). As for the CTW, I found that, as with most things, you get a lot out of it if you ask the right questions. I also signed up with the RFEA (very helpful if you know which part of the country you are looking to relocate to), Civvy Street, The List (the Liquid List is a very good way to meet others in the same boat, and those offering advice or opportunities) and a few other Ex Mil Recruitment agencies.

I could not fault my IERO, the Resettlement Clerk or my Resettlement Officer. I made sure I had a copy of JSP 534, if I wasn't sure of anything , I asked.

My Boss at the time was well onside as most of the Military were on final tours, he would not break any rules but was happy to bend them in our favour. I attended a number of Job fairs and a few Company introduction events and probably sent out 30 generic CVs. I was very lucky to get a Job after just one interview, and my pay went up, not down (I had exactly the experience they needed). I started work in Jan 2009 but did not finish Service until March 2009, I did get stung by the Tax man though.
I was given the Tax free alowance against my Mil Salary and Civvy wage, and when I started getting my Pension, they gave me the Tax free allowance for that as well. It took three years of phone calls trying to sort it out.


Shiny.
 

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