This blog post was written by Dr Hugh Milroy at Veterans Aid.
It’s a fact of life that when something works for the majority, the minority can get overlooked – and for most veterans, the transition system works. Overwhelmingly, individuals do well when they leave the Armed Forces. Indeed many go on to outperform their civilian counterparts. So why am I asking for the resettlement system to be modernised?
Quite simply, because it is failing people. It is failing a group who, arguably, most need help and denying them opportunities that only longer serving or higher-ranking counterparts tend to use.
I speak as the CEO of an ex-service charity whose clients have served an average of just two years four months and who are struggling to survive. The current transition system is graduated; those who have served the longest, benefit the most. At Veterans Aid we see men and women – often with initially good prospects – experiencing genuine hardship; not because they have done anything wrong, but because they either don’t qualify for all that the transition system offers or because what is on offer is not appropriate to their needs.
There is something in place for those who have only served for a short time, and they are offered guidance, but most are ill-prepared for the fiscal reality of life after discharge. Life in Britain is costly and complex. Many individuals enlisted with only rudimentary education and few life skills; when members of this group ‘walk out of the gate’ they can face significant challenges.
In the recent House of Lords debate about transition Lord Sharpe expressed his surprise that the Individual Resettlement Training Costs (IRTC) grant available to leavers with six or more years’ service was set at just £534. Baroness Stedman-Scott responded by explaining that the grant was actually worth much more because, over a period of 10 years, the training it and other schemes could ‘potentially’ purchase might be worth as much as £9,000.
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