Understanding the ‘Combat’ experience of ‘Veterans’ may be very difficult to comprehend for some, however, understanding military culture, ethos, values, sense of belonging and transition to civilian life, can be successfully explored by following a timeline approach for a new recruit and recognising the intense emotional human journey undertaken when entering such a unique environment. The commitment required when deploying to a potentially life threatening situation, with those in a team who are perceived as ‘family’ and the definition of ‘family’ is discussed, to establish a reference point and how moving from military to civilian life can for some, create challenges. This is especially relevant when transitioning from a very robust and structured environment, to one of more flexibility, choice, includes the absence of ‘orders’ and personal identity reference points, resulting in familiar military cultural and lifestyle anchor points being not visible, or different for the service leaver.
Recognised frameworks, theories and evidence based research such as Erikson’s (1963) theory of psychosocial development, Adler’s (1975) The Transitional Experience: An Alternative View of Culture Shock, Cooper et al (2016) Transition from Military to Civilian Life which cites Bourdieu’s (1980) The Logic of Practice and publications by MoD, FIMT and KCMHR, provide the academic foundation which allows for military culture to be explored and compared to non-military settings and provides a reference point for delegates to compare the similarities and differences between military and civilian life, and the effects psychological, physical and emotional transition may have on the service leaver and their families.
A Veteran is defined as ‘anyone who has been paid for 1 day’s service in HM Armed Forces’, so to support attending staff and professionals that identify members of the ex-Armed forces community as part of their community roles (6.2 million of the UK population - Royal British Legion, 2014), the CPD provides an extensive toolkit of resources to take away, access and incorporate into practice and service delivery. Over 1200 staff have received the CPD training and initial report findings suggest an 85% increase in positive service delivery impact (YSJU, Impact Report – 2015) by having an ‘understanding of military culture and transition’.
After serving in the Royal Navy (Fleet Air Arm) as an Aircraft Engineer and seeing active service in the Falklands in 1982, Nick transitioned into civilian life in 1986 and joined HM Prison Service. Whilst serving, he re-trained as a group facilitator becoming a seconded member of the RAPt (Rehabilitation of Addicted Prisoners Trust) team, delivering the abstinence based, 6 month recovery programme for offenders. 2 years later he moved over into a generic substance misuse team supporting offenders to better manage their substance issues. Moving into offender management in 2009 as an offender supervisor, he supported offender’s address their offending behaviour by identifying areas of need to access rehabilitation services, and prepare them for resettlement after serving their custodial sentences.
During this time Nick created and developed the Veterans In Custody Support model to identify and support offenders who were former members of the Armed Forces. The VICS model was adopted as best practice by the MOD and MOJ. Shortly afterwards he was seconded to the NOMS HQ (National Offender Management Services) becoming the VICS national coordinator for 125 HM Prisons in England and Wales. In his role he supported and trained staff to develop their own veteran’s resettlement support services across the custodial estate. In 2010 Nick was honoured to be presented with the HRH Princess Royal Butler Trust Award for his veterans support work.
He joined York St John University in 2012 following a request from Health Education Yorkshire and Humber to the University, to deliver a Veterans Awareness CPD study day to Health and Social Care staff across the Y&H region. To date, he has delivered the CPD to over 1200 staff across England and Wales who have proactively responded to the MOD Armed Forces Covenant and NHS Constitution expectations around supporting the nearly 6.2 million strong ex Armed Forces community.
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