Understanding ‘Negative Transitioning’ in British Ex-Service Personnel


This report addresses a very small number of defence force veterans whose transition
experiences are not typical, although they capture the public imagination and receive
disproportionate public attention; namely, veterans who transition so negatively that they end
up in prison, homeless or in receipt of mental health care.


There is now a growing body of research on what we might call ‘pathways to success’ in the transition from military to civilian life. While the equivalent research base on what we might call ‘pathways to failure’ in the transition is growing, it remains quite small in comparison. To quote Air Vice-Marshal Ray Lock CBE in the Foreword to a recent report on ex-Service personnel in prison, “there are many indicators that an ex-Service person is struggling to transition successfully into civilian life”. Our research extends this current knowledge in substantial ways by focusing on three measures of what the literature calls ‘bad transitioning’: prison, homelessness, and mental health problems. It is based on a very large qualitative sample of veterans, plus two case studies – homelessness in Birmingham and prison veterans in Scotland.

Full Reference

John D Brewer and Stephen Herron, 2022. Understanding ‘Negative Transitioning’ in British Ex-Service Personnel. Senator George J Mitchell Institute for Global Peace, Security and Justice Queen’s University Belfast.