Whether you are currently serving in the military or are a veteran, there are many benefits and support schemes available to you and your family. For veterans, it can often feel isolating to leave the military and enter ‘civvy street’. It is a big life change to deal with so it is understandable that many veterans struggle with the transition in one way or another. It is vital to know what support is available and to utilise the backing if and when you feel it will be beneficial to you. Below, we have listed some of the key schemes, grants and organisations that can provide you with assistance in life after the military.
It is not unusual for veterans to find themselves in a position of financial struggle after leaving the military. The following organisations can provide you with support in the form of grants, advice and emergency financial assistance.
- The Royal British Legion – provides veterans and serving personnel with specialist financial advice and support as well as urgent assistance for temporary crisis situations such as homelessness. They have a dedicated benefits and money advice team.
- ABF, The Soldiers’ Charity – provides grants to 4,500 individuals each year, suitable for members and former members of the British Regular Army and British Army Reserve and their families. The grants are aimed towards those who have been unable to obtain statutory funding.
- RAF Benevolent Fund – offers a range of support for serving and former RAF personnel and their families including grants. They can provide advice on obtaining benefits and can help with financial support including dealing with unexpected costs and priority bills.
- Turn2Us – a great ‘go-to’ organisation that helps you find out what benefits and grants you may be entitled to.
- The Veterans Charity – provides immediate, direct support to veterans facing hardship and distress. They supply essentials such as food shopping, household goods, clothing, furniture and phones.
- Help for Heroes – among other support services, Help for Heroes offers grants for veterans and service personnel who have suffered injury or illness while serving. They have a Quick Reaction Fund that can provide fast financial support (within 72 hours for extremely urgent cases), they provide grants for a variety of situations including; debt support, housing adaptations, sports and therapeutic equipment and activities, employment opportunities and more.
- ssafa the Armed Forces charity – provides support for veterans and their families for life, no matter when they served. ssafa offer practical, emotional and financial support and can assist with; debt advice, helping you buy household goods, support for homeless veterans and residential housing.
- StepChange – provides free debt advice to help people find solutions to overcome debt problems.
The British Legion estimates that there are about 6,000 homeless veterans in the UK. Leaving the military is a huge life change which involves not only leaving your job but also moving out of the provided accommodation. If you are struggling with homelessness or are worried about moving house, contact the organisations below for support:
If you do not have a place to stay and are in need of emergency accommodation take a look at:
- Shelter England, Shelter Cymru or Shelter Scotland for advice and information on housing.
- Veterans Aid – can provide immediate help to veterans in need of hostel accommodation.
There’s no doubt that moving house is stressful, for those leaving the military the stress can be amplified as they will be moving out of Service Family Accommodation. If this is something you are concerned about or are struggling with, the organisations below may be able to provide you with assistance and support:
- Citizens Advice – a great starting point for information on housing options for veterans.
- Joint Service Housing Advice Office – provides information and advice and can help you move out of Armed Forces housing and find a new home.
- Royal British Legion Industries – offers a number of schemes and support services including a tailored service to help find housing solutions including temporary accommodation, supported housing, family housing schemes and assisted living schemes.
- Stoll – provides supported housing and support services to vulnerable veterans.
- Haig Housing – dedicated to providing housing assistance to veterans and/ or their dependents.
Mental health and welfare is of great significance for veterans, if you are going through a hard time please know you are not alone and there are organisations dedicated to helping deal with issues and improve your quality of life:
- Combat Stress – this leading mental health charity helps veterans deal with issues like post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety and depression with free specialist treatment and support services. They also run a 24 hour mental health helpline which can be reached on 08001381619.
- Veterans Welfare Service – provides one to one help, guidance and support for veterans with a commitment to enhancing veterans quality of life.
- Big White Wall – this online mental health community gives people an anonymous environment to support your journey towards better mental wellbeing. On the site, you can obtain one-to-one online therapy as well as a support network, information, advice and guided support programmes.
Finding a career after service can seem like a daunting prospect but there are support schemes in place to make the transition easier:
- Career Transition Partnership (CTP) – funded by the MOD, this no cost recruitment service supports those leaving the armed forces by connecting them with potential employers. This support is available for up to two years after the individuals military discharge date.
- Hire a Hero – committed to helping make the transition into civilian employment easier by providing support wherever possible.
- Troops to Teachers – this undergraduate degree bursary gives veterans the opportunity to train as a teacher.
- Veteran Employment Transition Support (VETS) – this social enterprise brings together charities and businesses to improve employment outcomes for veterans. They offer training and pre-employment support include CV and interview workshops and networking events.
- RFEA The Forces Employment Charity – this charity partners with organisations and employers meaning they have thousands of job opportunities from employers who value ex-military recruitment. They also provide career advice.
As you can see there are countless organisations that are dedicated to helping veterans in a variety of situations but let’s not forget there is also government support available. A recent report from the Guardian states that a number of ex-service personnel felt let down by the benefits system. With many veterans finding it difficult to navigate the system and feeling reluctant to claim benefits, we hope this summary of government benefits gives you more confidence in making use of the help that is available.
UK Benefits Available for Serving Personnel or Veterans
- Child Benefit: available if you are responsible for one or more children under the age of 16. This is a weekly rate of £20.70 for one child and £13.70 per additional child.
- Statutory Sick Pay: if you are too ill to work you can get £94.25 a week SSP.
- Armed Forces Independence Payment: provides financial support to service personnel (and veterans) who have been seriously injured during service.
- Personal Independence Payment: can help you cover some of the costs you experience as a result of a long term illness or disability.
- Sure Start Maternity Grant: this is a one-off payment of £500 to help towards the costs of having a child.
- Jobseekers Allowance: a weekly payment to help you while you look for work.
- Universal Credit: a payment to help with living costs if you are out of work or on a low income.
- Council Tax Relief: a reduction in the amount of council tax you pay.
- Armed Forces Pensions: all members of the armed forces are automatically enrolled into this pension scheme and pay 0% towards it.
There are also a couple of discounts you are eligible to receive as a veteran or serving personnel:
- Forces Railcard – can give you 1/3 off rail travel on most UK fares.
- Forces Discounts – get discounts on many goods through the Defence Discount Service.
You may also be eligible to receive compensation if you have been injured or unwell due to service:
- Armed Forces Compensation Scheme – this provides compensation for any injury, illness or death caused by service on or after 6 April 2005. You have 7 years to make a claim, although there are exceptions for late onset illnesses. Lump payments range from £1,236 to £650,000 and for those with severe injuries and illnesses Guaranteed Income Payment (GIP) is offered which is a monthly tax free payment.
Advice on Benefits & Compensation
We know that the benefits system can be confusing, but don’t let this stop you from claiming the help and support you are entitled to. If you are unsure and want more information and advice take a look at these websites:
- UK Government – provides a list of benefits, eligibility and how to claim
- Citizens Advice – always a great place to start for advice and information
- The Royal British Legion – offers a range of services including benefits and money advice
We touched on mental health organisations earlier, the following organisations also provide medical services and may be able to help if you have suffered injuries and illness as a result of service:
- NHS – veterans are entitled to priority access to NHS care for service-related conditions. When you leave the military it is important you tell your GP that you are a veteran so that your medical documentation can be transferred over and you can benefit from veteran-specific services including mental health and prosthetics.
- DMWS – provide professional and confidential medical services to the Armed Forces community including aged veteran support, armed forces community support and support during recovery.
- Blind Veterans UK – provides support for blind and visually impaired veterans.
- Help for Heroes – provides help for veterans who have suffered injury and illness during service. They have recovery and rehabilitation centres to support the wounded, injured and sick veterans and service personnel.
- Blesma – provides support for veterans who have suffered life-changing limb loss and injuries during service.
Transitioning into civilian life is a huge undertaking but there are so many organisations that are dedicated to making it as smooth and stress free as possible. Knowing where to turn for help is essential and we hope this article has helped you to find organisations that can support you if and when a helping hand is needed. Below are a couple of the key sites that can help you find more information on available services and support and will be able to point you in the right direction: