UCLan and the University of Salford united to conduct research which has shed light on the inconsistent experiences of personnel who leave the military due to a physical injury or condition acquired in service.
The study – which was commissioned by Forces in Mind Trust and conducted by the University of Central Lancashire (UCLan) in partnership with the University of Salford – found that, while there was evidence of good practice, there was significant variability, uncertainty and inconsistencies in the recovery and resettlement processes.
What is the research?
The research, undertaken by the unis, is the first UK qualitative longitudinal study to explore the experiences and outcomes for Service leavers with a physical injury or condition acquired in service.
Participants’ accounts demonstrated that there was a need to provide greater mental health support to those discharged with a physical injury or condition to help them adjust to their sudden change of circumstances.
The research found another significant challenge was whether sufficient time has been recommended by the medical board to allow service leavers adequate time to prepare for civilian life.
According to the study, the lack of time to prepare for some had significant and negative consequences. The researchers ultimately concluded that this variability of experience needs to be addressed by the Government and NHS.
Dr Celia Hynes, Director of the College for Military Veterans and Emergency Services at UCLan and lead author of the report said: ‘Our team has been privileged to undertake this research and thank the Forces in Mind Trust for their support.
‘Our aim within this qualitative piece of research was to hear directly from service leavers who had left service with a physical injury or condition about their experiences of the discharge process and the impact on life over a period of time after Service.
‘All participants valued their time served within Her Majesty’s Armed Forces and held a great sense of pride. However, for some their experience was tainted by the process and practices of discharge.
‘The recommendations that are proposed within this report highlight how changes may improve the experience and have a positive impact on the transition of this particular cohort. We have been humbled to hear first-hand experiences and thank all our participants for their contributions.’
Recommendations from the research
The recommendations in the report focused on three areas:
- Process improvements throughout the medical discharge process
- Better communication surrounding compensation payments and financial support
- Continuity of health care from the military into civilian life
Mike Ellicock, Chief Executive of Forces in Mind Trust, said the research provides: ‘Important and useful recommendations for improvements which can make a real difference to those who leave service with a physical condition or injury.’
Ellicock added that “some” of the recommendations have already been acknowledged by the Government and NHS.
‘We hope to see them now take action to remove some of the barriers which remain, and ensure consistent and accessible support is provided,’ he said.