Leaving the armed forces can be an emotional time

17 Feb 2022

Leaving the armed forces can be an emotional time

Whether you’ve spent your entire working life in the armed forces, or whether you’ve served a short time to only find that this isn’t the career path for you or have been unable to continue your service for other reasons, you may find that leaving the armed forces is an extremely emotional time. Here are some common experiences that you might expect to face, as well as some considerations that will help you to prepare and cope with this relatively turbulent time.

Dealing with Mental Health Conditions

A first consideration when it comes to leaving the services is mental health. Many ex-services personnel report difficulties with mental health conditions when leaving the forces. Like the rest of the UK population, the most common mental health difficulties among serving and former Armed Services personnel tend to be depression and anxiety. However, these are reported at higher rates than average in comparison to the civilian population. It is also important to note that veterans tend to experience higher rates of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) – especially those who have been deployed and seen combat.

Research has found that individuals with negative experience prior to entering the forces (such as abuse or neglect) tend to experience more severe mental health difficulties having left the services. However, this is a general rule for the population as a whole, not just the armed forces. It’s also important to remember that anyone can develop mental health conditions and can suffer the symptoms.

Perhaps something that can cause more difficulty for individuals leaving the services in addressing mental health conditions is the culture of self-sufficiency and strength that is prevalent in the forces. This stigma can create barriers to ex-marines seeking help.

It is important that you reach out for support if you are experiencing difficulties with your mental health. There are medical professionals, mental health charities, helplines, support groups and more.

Emotional Considerations

There are emotional considerations when leaving the armed forces too. Some leavers will find the process positive, simple and straightforward. Others may find the transition to civilian life more difficult, facing a host of emotions that can cause the necessary adjustment to personal and social commitments a challenge. It is important to seek support with this transition if you are experiencing difficulties. Speaking to others in similar situations or a professionally trained therapist can help.

Adapting to a New Lifestyle and Routine

One of the biggest hurdles people face when heading back into civilian life is adapting to a completely new lifestyle and routine. The lifestyle and routine that come hand in hand with serving in the armed forces tend to differ significantly from routines commonly followed by civilians. If you are of a working age, and need to head into a civilian career to support yourself and your family, you may find it difficult returning to the standard nine to five. However, securing a job can add a sense of routine and purpose to your day to day life, helping you to settle back.

If you’d like further help or assistance with finding a role that will fit you, your experience, your skillset and your character, our team will be able to help. We specialise in marine recruitment and can guide you through the entire process.