What happens to British veterans when they leave the armed forces?


This article discusses a quantitative analysis and considered factors related to employment outcomes for UK veterans, including the impact of the veteran’s mental health. This research did not find that military service itself has a negative impact on future employment. However, there was some suggestion that poor mental health could make individuals more vulnerable to hardship such as unemployment.


Little is known about the factors associated with leaving the armed forces, or what predicts subsequent employment success for veterans. It is likely that there is a complex interaction of adverse social outcomes and mental health status in this group. The majority of service leavers do well after leaving and are in full-time employment. Those with poor mental health during service were more likely to leave and had a greater chance of becoming unemployed after leaving. Mental health problems appear to remain static for veterans after leaving. Veterans of the Gulf War enjoyed more favourable employment outcomes, provided that they came home well. Conclusions: Only a minority of veterans fare badly after service, even amongst those with active tours of duty behind them. Veterans with mental health problems during service seem to be at higher risk of social exclusion after leaving and therefore these individuals represent an especially vulnerable group of the veteran population.

Full Reference

Iversen, A., Nikolaou, V., Greenberg, N., Unwin, C., Hull, L., Hotopf, M., Dandeker, C., Ross, J. and Wessely, S., 2005. What happens to British veterans when they leave the armed forces? European Journal of Public Health, 15(2), 175-184.