Written by: Cally Worden
Stepping outside the bubble of service life can be daunting, especially if it’s all you’ve ever known. But the path back to Civvy Street can be smoothed with a little help from the benefits and support systems for ex armed forces that operate across the UK. Certain key provisions exist to help those leaving the armed forces to get on their working and financial feet once more.
Finding a Job
JobCentre Plus is the enhanced public face of the latest raft of government initiatives to get all unemployed people back to work. Every JobCentre Plus district across the UK has a dedicated Armed Forces Champion on staff. Their primary purpose is to ensure that the particular needs of ex-armed service personnel are reflected in the help and guidance provided. The Armed Forces Champions are available to offer advice and guidance to those still in or just leaving service, others who are already in their period of resettlement, and spouses/civil partners of service personnel.
Royal British Legion
The RBL offers advice, and in some cases can offer funding, for skills and qualifications that are designed to help ex-service personnel find work. This comes in the form of the Employment Support Grant Scheme. For leavers interested in setting up a self-employed endeavour, the RBL also runs a service called Be the Boss which offers expert guidance and training on setting up and running a small business, and how to manage the financial side of things.
General and specific Benefits
Most ex-armed forces personnel are eligible for the full range of benefits that are on offer to all civilians. In addition there are service-specific benefits that can be claimed in certain circumstances, such as Independence Payments for personnel wounded in service, War Pensions, and payments under the Armed Forces Compensation Scheme. Eligibility for these specific benefits can also lead to further benefits, such as the Veterans Concessionary Travel Scheme, and a continuation of eligibility for the Forces Railcard.
How to Claim
The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) provides specific guidance for ex-armed services personnel. Contacting them direct will set you on the right track, and a browse through the site www.gov.uk offers a wider view of all the benefits available before you begin. Knowing what you are eligible for is half the battle, and arming yourself with as much information as possible will help you to ensure you derive the maximum level of benefits possible given your personal circumstances.
For those medically discharged, retired personnel with long service records, and those injured or bereaved by service in the armed forces, the Ministry of Defence offers specific pension and compensation payouts. Their Veterans-UK website offers full details of the benef