Lifting Our Sights – the future of transition for the Armed Forces Community
Lifting Our Sights is a research project focusing on the Armed Forces Community and their transition to civilian life | Credit: Forces in Mind Trust
A shift in perceptions provides the key for our Armed Forces Community to thrive as they transition to civilian life in an ever-changing world.
This month, I took over from Ray Lock CBE as Chief Executive of Forces in Mind Trust (FiMT). Unless you have had a specific interest in numeracy in the past decade, I suspect that very few of you know me so I felt it may be helpful to include a couple of lines before introducing Lifting Our Sights: Beyond 2030 - The impact of future trends on the transition of our Armed Forces Community from military to civilian life, which along with a strong organisation and fantastic team is Ray’s primary legacy to me.
I served in the Armed Forces from 1998 to 2005 and led soldiers in combat in Sierra Leone and Iraq. I was wounded in action as my platoon advanced towards our objective on Op BARRAS, the hostage rescue in Sierra Leone in September 2000. I made a full recovery, but my radio operator was less fortunate and was eventually medically discharged.
Since then, I have felt a deep personal responsibility to do what I can to support service personnel in their transition into civilian life. I had assumed that this would always be rather tactical alongside my primary employment so feel privileged to now have the opportunity to contribute at a more strategic level, which brings me to our new Lifting Our Sights report which we will be bringing to party conferences in the autumn.
A readiness to improvise, adapt and overcome is going to be essential for almost everyone
The exam question for the report was: ‘How can we improve transition, not just for recent Service leavers, but also for those who will leave service in the future?’. To answer this, my team and the report authors Future Agenda spoke to sector leaders, experts and those with lived experience to identify the key trends and shifts which will have an impact on the Armed Forces Community over the coming decade and beyond. The final report is full of useful insights, but perhaps most important are the four priority action areas that were identified:
- empowering the system to better support Service leavers through collaboration and data sharing;
- personalizing the transition process;
- empowering ex-Service personnel to take responsibility for their military and civilian lives;
- delivering accurate perceptions, improving public understanding of the role of the Armed Forces and the hugely valuable and transferable skills veterans can bring to their communities and civilian employment.
Of these, changing perceptions is the one I am most excited about. This is because as we enter the post-Covid, post-Brexit world, a readiness to improvise, adapt and overcome is going to be essential for almost everyone. If provided with the right support at the right time – and with a shift in perceptions - veterans and their families could be better placed than many to exploit this uncertain environment.
We will be bringing Lifting Our Sights to party conferences in the autumn. I hope to speak with many of you there.
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