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Making the change from military to civilian life

Forces Children Scotland 3 weeks ago

Forces Life Media

Making the change from military to civilian life

A blog from Robyn Pattison, Policy Officer at Forces Children Scotland.

Being in a forces family can mean many different transitions, such as changing school, friends and where you live regularly. Some families may choose to stay in one area and not experience this as much, but the one transition all forces families will experience is the transition to “civvy street.” For some, this can be the most challenging one and for others, the most exciting. 

Children and young people have told us that this can be a confusing time for them. Not only may they be moving, again, but some young people feel they are losing a crucial part of their identity. Being in forces family is a unique lifestyle which many young people are proud of, and losing this can leave them feeling lost and confused. They may also lose support they previously had living on a base and feel left out from their community. 

As a child of a veteran, and although my dad left when I was young, I can still feel the impact of his service on the family. There is still a strong sense of pride and respect from my family towards the armed services and he is still close friends with some of those he served with. It also impacted on my dad’s own job style as he continued in a role that required him to be away abroad for stretches of time as this was the type of work he was used to. The idea of a 9-5 just didn’t suit him! This meant that although I never experienced a deployment before he left the armed forces, the aftereffects of armed forces life meant I experienced my parent being away often.  

Some children and young people may struggle with this transition, and some of the young people we work with came up with the idea of a support service called Ruby Boots. This project is piloting in Fife and Edinburgh. Ruby Boots aims to bring together children who have been through the transition to civilian life and those who are just about to go through it. This will allow peers to support one another going through this tough time to talk about what can help. This project will help young people through this transition and let them know they are not alone. 

Forces Children Scotland also co-produced a campaign with young people about this transition called Tornado of Change. This campaign raises awareness of the challenges young people experience and gives ways in which those around these children and young people can help, from professionals to decision-makers. Everyone can support children and young people through this transition. 

More research is needed into the experiences of children and young people going through this transition and more support is needed at all stages. Schools can help by making efforts to understand how this may affect children and young people. We encourage teachers to reach out and listen to children and young people going through this change and offer to support them through it. If you are in Fife or Edinburgh, then please talk to us about Ruby Boots. Change is difficult for anyone, but we can all help one another. 

Children and young people must be able to access support when they need it, for whatever reason. This transition has been highlighted as a challenging time by young people so research must be conducted into its impacts and services provided to aid children and young people through this time. Forces Children Scotland will continue to raise this issue and amplify the voices of children and young people.