We recognise that leaving the Armed Forces can be a major, life-changing experience. Not many career changes need as much adjustment as leaving the military and returning to civilian life. The majority of service-leavers successfully transition back into civilian life, but a small number may find it very difficult. Others may find themselves needing help much further down the line.
There are lots of organisations which support veterans and their families, and it can be hard knowing which one to contact. Your first point of contact, no matter what support you need, whether you're based in the UK or abroad, should be the Veterans' Gateway (VG). Many of the team are veterans themselves, so they understand the issues faced by people leaving the Armed Forces. Their aim is to put veterans and their families in touch with the organisations best placed to give them the advice and support they need.
The Veterans' Gateway team provides 24-hour support, 7 days a week, through the Veterans' Gateway website and their Contact Centre helpline (0808 802 1212). You can also contact them by email, text, and online 'live-chat'.
Serving personnel and their families
As part of the national Armed Forces Covenant, several initiatives have been designed to provide support for military and defence personnel, and their families. Find out more about support for serving personnel and their families on the government website (GOV.UK).
GOV.UK also has a dedicated section about working, jobs, and pensions for the Armed Forces.
SSAFA - the Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Families Association charity - has produced additional needs and disability: a guide for service families which includes a directory of support across all three services.
Other organisations are:
The Army Families Federation is the independent voice of Army families. It works to improve the quality of life for Army families around the world, looking at any aspect of life which is affected by the Army lifestyle. AFF is independent of the Army and offers confidential advice.
The Naval Families Federation are approachable, inclusive, non-judgmental, and ready to listen. They offer a confidential service to everyone who contacts them, and work to build and maintain the trust of those they work with and support.
The RAF Families Federation provides all RAF personnel and their families – Regular and Reserve, single or married – with timely and professional support, assistance, and an independent voice regarding issues or concerns that they may have.
Reservists and their families
Members of the Reserve Armed Forces (Reservists) and their employers have certain rights and responsibilities when a Reservist either joins up or starts a new job, is mobilised, or returns to work.
There is a great deal of support and advice available, which can be found on the rights and responsibilities for both reservists and employers page on GOV.UK. Some rights are governed by law (e.g. the legal right to reinstatement in civilian jobs after a period of mobilised service), so it’s important to be aware of them.
The ‘Defence Relationship Management’ (DRM) service is a single point of contact linking employers with the Ministry of Defence (MOD). It offers advice and support on employing members of the Armed Forces community.
If you have any questions which aren't answered on the 'rights and responsibilities for reservists and employers' page, or you're having difficulties with your employer, you can contact your Unit Employer Support Officer. Each unit has an Employer Support Officer who is the main authority on employer issues. Your detachment commander or Permanent Staff Administrative Officer (PSAO) will be able to put you in touch. You can also contact the DRM Helpline on 0800 389 5459 from Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm, or report disadvantage at work online.