Transition from service to civvy street: the needs of armed forces veterans and their families in the UK

E. Fulton, D. Wild, J. Hancock, E. Fernandez, J. Linnane

    Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

    3 Citations (Scopus)

    Abstract

    Aims:
    Although many veterans make the transition from military to civilian life without difficulty, a small proportion struggle due to an impact on mental and physical wellbeing. Stigma and a reluctance to seek help further exacerbate this problem. The Armed Forces Covenant outlines the importance of ensuring that public services are aware of the specific needs of veterans; however, evidence suggests that knowledge among professional staff may be limited.

    Methods:
    This exploratory study included three phases. Phase 1 (questionnaires) explored the needs of veterans and their families in Warwickshire (UK) regarding information about their health and wellbeing and the barriers and facilitators to accessing local public health services. Also in Phase 1, health and public services staff knowledge of veterans’ needs and the Covenant is explored. In Phase 2, both samples attended a related focus group for a more in-depth exploration of the issues identified in Phase 1; in order to inform a Phase 3 workshop to co-develop an intervention.

    Results:
    Veterans, their families and friends, wanted more information about what services do, how and when to access them and what to expect. Confusion over when to seek help for mental health ‘symptoms’ was highlighted. More support for families was identified, alongside a need for health and social care staff to have a better understanding of the unique experiences and needs of veterans. Only 35% of staff reported a good understanding of the Armed Forces Covenant and their responsibilities to uphold it.

    Conclusions:
    Public health teams within UK local authorities are well placed to ensure veterans have more knowledge about and access to public services. Interventions to address stigma and veterans’ reluctance to seek help were needed. To this end, interventions for local veterans, their loved ones and staff in public services, designed in co-creation with these groups, is discussed.

    Keywords military medicine, mental health, health services, military veterans, inequalities, patient care
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)49-58
    Number of pages10
    JournalPerspectives in Public Health
    Volume139
    Issue number1
    Early online date5 Jul 2018
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2019

    Keywords

    • health services
    • inequalities
    • mental health
    • military medicine
    • military veterans
    • patient care

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health

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