Posted on February 27, 2019
Over the past couple of weeks, I have had conversations with people from all ranks and walks of life prior to their service: Commodores, Staff Sergeants, Flight Sergeants, Privates, Colonels. There are different lengths of service and different experiences. Each one has different familial circumstances, marital status, children and resettlement location. My mentees have various trades, skills and target roles in civilian life. Yet, there is one common theme running through all of those people; they are all trying to find their way through to find a new life in civvy street and this brings with it uncertainties, stresses, anxieties and self-reflection irrespective of rank.
Transition is not a respecter of rank, service, medals nor family. To each person it is a singular, personal and bespoke experience, and yet brings stresses, concerns, worries and the need to prioritise and make decisions on the various aspects. In essence, it is a true leveller.
The success of our earlier iteration of transition support, Jimmy in Business, for me, was epitomised one networking event when a serving Brigadier and a serving signaller were stood at the bar, talking on first name terms, sharing their concerns and anxieties about making the transition from the insular supported environment of the Army and heading into the “big wide World”. A real sense of isolation is mentioned in many conversations, and my resettlement, while very smooth, was one for me and me alone.
Currently, we are seeing a lot of discussion on the cost of poor transition to the individuals and some of this is manifesting in the loss of life too early. The stresses created with such dramatic life changes can have a significant negative impact on the individual and their family.
The Transition Mapping Study in 2013 modelled the cost of poor transition to the UK as being in the order of £111m for 2014 and following the recent operational environment, I would suggest that the cost is far higher of late.
While the process is individual and personal, there are many aspects that are the same and perhaps, creating a community to share and discuss best practice and advice might support some who are struggling.
Transition should not be as impactful as it seems to be; Adapt, Improvise, Overcome seems to be carried through into civilian life and people work through their issues.
How would you build a community to support those that have gone before?