A Charity offering personal help and advice for all serving and former members of the Royal Navy, Royal Marines, Royal Fleet Auxiliary, their Reserves and Families

Resettlement is a Family Thing

Published 21/07/2017 11:44:00, by Marina Maher

Leaving the service is an unsettling experience.  For some it is a release from a regime that they have not really enjoyed or have become disillusioned with, for others it is saying farewell to the only way of adult life they have ever experienced and is regarded with an uneven mixture of anticipation and anxiety.  Whatever personal feelings the individual has upon leaving the Royal Navy or Royal Marines they will be mirrored by his or her partner, for many transition to the civilian workplace means significant disruption to their lives as well - there may be implications on housing, schooling, income, their own careers and significantly less certainty in their lives, at least for a while.   The key to minimising  the stress associated with such a “culture shock” is consultation and planning – not just on an individual basis but as a family unit.  For many service families this goes against years of real practise where the service partner has tried to protect their loved ones from the most of the career decisions, so as not to worry them about the nature of the job – this now needs to change.   For those entitled to resettlement training and services there is an official support organisation through the regional resettlement offices and CTP to help with identifying and preparing for a second career, but this is not available for all service leavers, and only deals with one aspect of the transition.  The White Ensign Association is a charity that offers support to any service leaver across the spectrum of transition issues including employment, business start-up and personal finance using both in-house knowledge and expertise from a network of subject matter experts, as well as referrals to other charities  for such things as sheltered/social  housing  provision and benefits entitlement.     

For almost everyone swapping uniform for work clothes of a different hue the priority is to get a job but how to go about starting that search?  Those that are most successful – who seem to just walk into the perfect job – are also those that have put the effort and research into their endeavours at the right time and have inevitably closely involved their partners at every stage.  Some key considerations to discuss early before serious job hunting commences are suggested below:


  • Family considerations – are we happy to move, within the UK or even abroad, to follow a second career opportunity?  Are the children at a significant stage of education, is my partner’s employment aspirations important, could I continue to work away from home?  Do we need to buy a house or find alternative housing?
  • Finance – how much do we need to earn to support the family as we would like, what is the minimum we need to meet our financial commitments ?  Is there an immediate pension,  how does that affect our finances?  Have we enough life insurance should something happen to one of us, do we need to think about income protection or medical insurance, do we want to be able to save?
  • Employment – what is the partner seeking work good at, and just as importantly not good at (such a conversation requires listening skills rather than speaking from one of the parties taking part!), are there family/friend  connections that could help?  Is there a need to retrain and can we afford it?  Is there a civilian equivalent of my job, is there still a defence need for my skills? 

All the above are obvious and form part of the consideration process as an individual approaches or reaches their termination date, but if such questions are discussed and where possible agreed early in the process then the job searching element of transition is more focused and likely to engender earlier success.  Identifying and then achieving a second career that is both fulfilling and hopefully financially rewarding is all about knowing yourself – who better to help you than the woman or man that knows you as well, if not better than yourself - after all their lives are about to change as well.  (And the WEA stands ready to help too!).


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