Lifting the Lid on Transition: The family experience and the support they need

November, 2018

This report adds a family perspective to the transition evidence base, building understanding of the family’s experience of transition, and suggests how families can be supported through being equipped with accurate information and given realistic expectations for life after the Armed Forces.


The majority of Service leavers transition successfully (although we argue that the definition of ‘successful’ should be broadened considerably beyond Service leaver employment) and so, by continuation, the same can be said of families. However, when transition goes wrong, the risk is that it could go catastrophically wrong. Within an ever-changing Defence landscape where flux and uncertainty can be part of everyday life for military families, transition is the only definite of Service family life. The recommendations proposed in this report could make a real difference to families as their Service leaver leaves the Armed Forces. As the first of its kind, this research provides an insight into families’ lived experiences from their unique point of view and paints a picture of the holistic and complex nature of transition, which extends beyond the widely accepted definition centred around Service leavers’ employment. It affirms six ‘elements’ of transition: housing, health, education and children, employment, finances and wellbeing.

Full Reference

Heaver, L., McCullough, K. and Briggs, L., 2018. Lifting the Lid on Transition: The families' experience and the support they need. Final report. Naval Families Federation, Army Families Federation and Royal Air Force Families Federation.

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