When a member of the British military retires from active service and returns to civilian life, the adjustments required can be significant. Unmarried soldiers with no children may have no dependents, but if they have been serving overseas the idea of finding a new home via a private let can be somewhat daunting.
Equally, many of the men and women of our armed forces may have been living in Service Family Accommodation and now find themselves seeking a roof over their heads for themselves and their families. This guide will offer advice that can make the transition from serviceperson to civilian as smooth as possible.
Moving house is not an enjoyable experience for anybody, but it’s arguable that military personnel face a more significant struggle than most. Service Family Accommodation may no longer be an option, and when you completed the process of moving out, where do you turn for support and advice?
- The Forces Help to Buy Scheme is designed to provide a leg-up to military personnel who may be looking to take their first step on the property-purchasing ladder, with the ability to borrow against a military salary to cover deposits and legal fees whilst still in the employ of the army. Just be sure to read the criteria carefully; applications must be made with a minimum of six months of active duty remaining. You may also find that many private estate agents run their own discount schemes for former and current members of the armed forces.
- The Right to Buy Scheme also applies to military housing, so this could be worth investigating if it is an option for yourself and your family.
- Alternatively, apply for social housing if necessary at your earliest convenience. Remember that there are restrictions in place as to who is eligible for such a property, and you will almost certainly be placed on a waiting list. There is a separate scheme in place for emergency housing should that be necessary.
- The Army Families Federation should be your next port of call, as they will provide all kinds of advice on where else to search for appropriate accommodation.
- Haig Housing is one such option, a charity that specialises in finding homes for ex-service personnel in need. The structure of this process is similar to that of your local council, and Haig will not consider an application for anybody that has not investigated the official government channels first, but as this Trust focused their efforts on assisting veterans, Haig may be able to open more doors.
- STOLL are another charity that offer a very similar service to Haig; as with the above, an online submission process can be completed provided the applicant meets the criteria laid out by the organisation.
- The British Legion, of course, are always on hand to assist any former military personnel experiencing some kind struggle. Also, whilst not armed forces experts, The Citizens Advice Bureau provides a service devoted to veterans and their dependents.
Of course, where to live is just one question that you will face upon returning to civilian life – your next question will be just how to pay the rent or mortgage. Fortunately, many potential employers value the skill set that a former member of the armed forces can bring their business, and you should find yourself able to find work.
Much like the housing market, many major British manufacturers and businesses have specialised schemes in place for former members of the forces to join their ranks, but if you’d like to widen the net of your search there are a plethora of options open to you.
- Career Transition Partnership is a scheme arranged by the MOD to help former servicemen and people find employment in the private or public sectors.
- Civvy Street , run by the British Legion, acts as a form of online job centre, posting all kinds of roles available to former military personnel throughout the UK.
- Hire a Hero is a registered charity that connects discharged members of the forces in touch with potential employers.
- 4ExMilitary is a private recruitment agency that dedicates itself to finding positions for veterans.
- Troops to Teachers, meanwhile, is a scheme that will appeal to any aspiring educator.
- Armed Forces Champions are also posted at Job Centres throughout the UK to assist with the process of finding employment post-military and explain any state benefit entitlement. Certain ex-forces members will also be exempt from the nationwide benefit cap.
Of course, this is all assuming that you have left the military fit and able to work. Should you find yourself in an unfortunate position whereby you cannot find suitable employment, other avenues are worth exploring.
- The British Legion’s Grant Finder will list all the possible financial assistance that you may not be aware that you are entitled to.
- StepChange, Turn2Us and The Veterans Charity can offer advice, support and assistance for any veteran struggling with debt or other forms of financial obligation.
- Help for Heroes, Blesma and SSAFA all work tirelessly to provide support to former soldiers injured in the line of duty while serving their country, and the government’s compensation scheme is worth investigating if you are eligible.
Also make sure you register for a British Veterans Recognition Card, and enjoy the perks and discounts that your time of service has entitled you to, and ensure that your government-sanctioned military pension records are accurate and up-to-date.
Summary of Useful Links
There have been a great many links in this guide, and it’s easy to lose track of the important sites that may have caught your eye. For easy bookmarking and referencing, please see below for a list of all the sites that we recommend visiting.
4ExMilitary – www.4exmilitary.com
Army Families Federation – www.aff.org.uk
Blesma – https://blesma.org
The British Legion – www.britishlegion.org.uk
British Veterans – www.britishveterans.co.uk
Career Transition Partnership – www.ctp.org.uk
Citizens Advice Bureau – www.citizensadvice.org.uk
Haig Housing – www.haighousing.org.uk
Help for Heroes – www.helpforheroes.org.uk
Hire a Hero – www.hireaherouk.org
SSAFA – www.ssafa.org.uk
StepChange – www.stepchange.org
STOLL – www.stoll.org.uk
Troops to Teachers – https://getintoteaching.education.gov.uk/explore-my-options/teacher-training-routes/specialist-training-options/troops-to-teachers
Turn2Us – www.turn2us.org.uk
UK Government – www.gov.uk
The Veterans Charity – www.veteranscharity.org.uk