This paper explores the UK’s Armed Forces and Veterans’ Breakfast Clubs (AFVBCs) and argues that the AFVBCs provide a safe place for veterans to reminisce and provide mutual support to others who may share the same or similar experiences.
The armed forces veterans’ support sector is vast and, some would argue, overprovided for. At a time when some long-established ex-armed forces support organizations appear to be losing members, Armed Forces and Veterans’ Breakfast Clubs (AFVBCs) continue to grow. This article examines this phenomenon arguing that AFVBCs, which are organized in a somewhat unconventional way, provide a safe domain for veterans to reminisce, provide mutual support with others who share the same experiences, and understand military service and the difficulties of transition to civilian life, all factors which contribute to their well-being. They enable the generation and protection of military identity which is highly salient and prominent for many veterans. This study sees AFVBCs as a veteran’s self-help community which can also provide a focus for those responsible for implementing the Armed Forces Covenant. A total of 250 veterans contributed to this study, the majority being those who ‘do well’ in civilian life but with a minority who suffer in some way and need help. Veterans attending AFVBCs come from all branches of the armed forces, some having served for a short period and others a full career. Data were collected face-to-face at one AFVBC, from a study of online testimonials, conversations with the AFVBC founder and an online survey.
McDermott, J., 2020. ‘It’s Like Therapy But More Fun’ Armed Forces and Veterans’ Breakfast Clubs: A Study of Their Emergence as Veterans’ Self-Help Communities. Sociological Research Online. Available at: <https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/pdf/10.1177/1360780420905845>.