Joining the military is a seminal experience for almost all service people. It is a bellwether moment that sets the future in stone, one way or another. In today’s largely peaceful times, military service looks more like logistics and tutelage than anything else, though active service is still a possibility. Regardless the probabilities, though, military service can also be difficult – and support after service a vital provision.
The Military Experience
For many, joining the military is an overall positive experience. There are those that find comfort and support in the strict regimen of military life, and those that discover new talents or cultivate transferable skills through specialism in specific areas of operation. But military service is not easy, and there is an overwhelming number of servicepeople that suffer as a result of their service or deployment.
The most visible way in which this manifests is through injury. A military serviceperson might be injured in combat, during training or as a result of an accident suffered while on deployment. Whatever the cause of the injury, and whatever the nature of the incident, injured servicepeople are eligible to claim compensation via the AFCS (Armed Forces Compensation Scheme). In 2021-22, over 5,800 claims were made.
Illness and injury are not purely physical. Serving in the military can prove traumatic for Armed Forces members, with inciting incidents or experiences leading to prolonged mental health issues. Whatever the nature of the military experience, support and aftercare are necessary provisions.
But does the government do enough to support Armed Forces members? A recent report collated the opinions of UK armed forces charities regarding the level of government support provided to veteran servicepeople; 74% of charities that responded indicated they did not believe the government was doing enough to support veterans.
The support required goes far beyond the direct handling of injury claims and pastoral support requests. There are logistical barriers to communication, too, which can create unnecessary strife in veterans attempting to access the Ministry of Defence.
Support and Recovery
The third sector has a rich seam of military-centred charitable organisations, each of which target a specific corner of support for the military. Military solicitors are another vital form of support, being indispensable for the building of a robust case in the event of no-fault injury or an appeals process for compensation. In this way, support can take a number of different guises, with each serviceperson requiring a different and unique programme of support.
Finding support can be difficult for veterans, whether out of inability to access resources or an inability to overcome certain mental factors or biases. As such, networks are crucial to introducing servicepeople to resources and support options. These networks are built in the third sector, though pressure is building for the government to take a more active role in wedding veterans to necessary care and support.