Could I just say how much I’m looking forward to chatting with everyone on Monday, it’s a real honour to have the opportunity to share thoughts and work that I’ve been involved with over the years. A little about myself, I’m ex Royal Navy (Fleet Air Arm) and from Hull originally, well a very small village outside of Hull which was very boring for a teenager. I joined the RN after watching the BBC series Sailor in I think 1978. When I saw sailors going round the world, playing with big toys and pretty much thoroughly enjoying themselves I thought that’s the life for me, so off I went to the recruiting office in 1979. Fast forward a few months after basic training and trade training (Air Engineer Electrical) I went to RNAS Yeovilton in Dorset. I started on Wessex 5 Commando Helicopters and toyed for a while with the idea of becoming an aircrewman but I wanted to get onto the brand new Sea Harriers which I did in 1981. My first trip was the USA and I did all the sights Disney Land the lot plus Bermuda and St Thomas Virgin Isles. What a great time I was having, until one morning in 1982 I was dragged out of bed and told to “get the cabs ready, we’re off to the Falkland’s”. Why Scotland I thought and how on earth did the Argentinians get there undetected ?? The Falklands has been well documented so I won’t go into details but it was a life changing experience and one non of us who took part will ever forget.
I got married in October 1982 and we had our first child when I was at Yeovilton. After less than 8 years I decided that being in married quarters and long deployments wasn’t fair on my family so PVR’d into HM Prison Service where I spent 25 years. During this time I created the Veterans In custody Support Model launching it in 2010. It was listening to the stories the veterans told that really started my future academic journey as their narratives told of missing their mates, a sense of loss of identity, structure and purpose and feeling as something was missing from their lives post military. This was something that also resonated with me so I set off on a now 12 year journey into exploring the origins of these stories, where they came from and why did what they say have such an impact on them.
On joining York St John University after been offered a job by the Associate Dean Peter Gray (ex 3 Para Colour Sgt and fellow Falklands Veteran)I had the chance to completely envelope myself with finding out why veterans say “civvies don’t understand”, where does it originate from, how are service personnel developed, how does adopting and embracing the core values change people for life and what happens when people experience transition and the adjustment to civilian life.
This learning and exploration has led to developing the Military Human: Understanding Military Culture and Transition CPD training which takes a person centred approach to taking a journey from new recruit to transition for a service person and their families. It has now been delivered to over 3500 staff from the NHS, Local Authorities, MOD and CJS.
As a pre curser to my chat, I’ve attached what I feel is one of the best transition, yet underused tool. Have a look and tell me what you think, I wonder if any one resonates with it, most of us do. Looking forward to chatting.
In advance of this afternoons forum I thought I’d share with you some initial thoughts around transition and my military human CPD concept.
Why Transition Matters.
The subject of ‘transition’ and life after the military has drawn much debate on a national and international level for many years with Lord Ashcroft’s (2014) ‘Veterans Transitions Review’ exploring the journey from a ‘military’ to ‘civilian life’, and the structures around the Armed Forces Covenant, the document is viewed as a definitive publication and refenced regularly.
In his ‘why transition matters’ section Lord Ashcroft states that ‘On joining, young volunteers adopt an ethos of selfless service, a lifestyle far removed from that of the civilian, ready to go wherever they are ordered, totally committed to the task in hand, and ultimately prepared to give their lives for their team and their mission’.
This is powerful message which suggests that military life is in fact very different to civilian life, its not a job but a lifestyle, and that it requires young recruits to adapt, and adopt to an environment and organisation that will influence the development stages of a young recruit. To explain some of my thoughts around the military journey and transition I wrote a short blog article for the FIMT Lifting our sights research project. I’ve dropped the link here in preparation for this afternoon. I’m very much looking forward to chatting and hope you find my thoughts interesting.
Nice to e-meet you, I have been following the Military Human.
I find transition very interesting, I come from a outcomes based perspective and maybe a little more medical perspective. However, I have been questioning myself about what do we consider to be successful transition, and how do we measure a good transition? Are there a set of common measures? Are these measures variable amongst groups (services, regions, nations)? Understanding a good transition could allow for evidence based decisions for good transitions across the spectrum?
Thank you for joining us, and a very good question. One of the issues around what is a good transition is how its measured really. Officially the only real data we have is from the CTP (Career transition services) who follow up people up to 12 months and based around employment. An area that is overlooked is personal transition and adjustment. I’ll explain this and open up on a what is the military human page
Also following on from Renata’s question – do you think there are particular groups of service leavers who experience difficulties during transition or particular risk factors for this? Or alternatively, do you think there are particular areas in which support could be best placed to encourage a positive transition?
I was puzzled about this. I recently did a health economics evaluation on veterans health status and associated outcomes. There was some evidence from the US and none in the UK (peer reviewed, the work was limited to peer reviewed evidence).
Interestingly enough, the evidence from the US was a result of systematic service evaluations (based on validated measures) of Veterans use and satisfaction of services (eg mental health clinics, orthopaedics, rehab, etc). So again was a focus around help seeking veterans, which has the limitation, what about the vast majority of Veterans who don’t seek help? I haven’t been able to find anything. Food for thought, or even a collaborative grant bid 😉 🙂
Renata, speaking both as an academic and as a veteran who transitioned some years ago, a lot of veterans don’t seek help because they don’t need to. Many veterans have a smooth and successful transition, and move seamlessly into a civilian career. Our focus needs to be on those who don’t achieve that, but in the big scheme of things (about 15,000 people transitioning every year in the UK) they are not the majority. There are lessons to be learned from those who had a good transition which can help those who don’t do so well, and that is where the academic community has much to contribute.
Berverly, yes. To know what is good is very important. I haven’t really found much about the general state of veterans. In an ideal world NHS records would have a veteran identifier code. That could allow for analytics of a spectrum. I guess NHS records would only be as suitable as far as healthcare, but the equivalent beyond healthcare would be essential. We should think holistically, the analytics on that, how, when, why – thats another to consider.
Good afternoon everyone. You might be interested in a project the Contact Group is working on with Cobseo, and funded by OVA. We have a consultant now scoping the viability of linking veteran data in MoD, NHS and third sector. In this way a transitioning veteran with mental health issues will only have to tell their story once as the key players will know about their journey in real time. If finally implemented it will provide instant data on numbers, trends, needs etc. I will be speaking about it at the Kings conference and the Contact conference.
It would Renata. The key will be to get GPs engaged, and we plan to use the ‘veteran friendly’ ones. Will probably resolve the consent issue by having the veteran use an app, so that their situation is updated by them and for them.