Military veteran transition into employment and civilian engagement
: a walking with the wounded evaluation

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


Introduction: For the majority of those who leave the Armed Forces, reintegration into society is generally smooth and veterans are more resilient than the public believe. The minority who struggle to adjust to life outside the services report finding it challenging fitting in to post-service life and identity. These individuals often require additional support to truly resettle, which may be provided through third-sector services. There is currently little UK based evidence on the appropriateness and effectiveness of the third-sector provision for the Armed Forces community. There is also limited knowledge on UK military-civilian occupational identity. 
Methods: This thesis employed a mixed methods approach to address these gaps. The study data came from an independent evaluation of the support provided by the charity Walking With The Wounded (WWTW); Head Start, a mental health programme; First Steps, an vocational support programme; and Home Straight, an employment support programme for homeless veterans. Alongside this, interviews were conducted with beneficiaries of the charity to provide an understanding of the needs/views of both their WWTW and post-military experiences. WWTW aimed to use this evaluation to improve their service provision. 
Results: The Head Start programme achieved sustained, significant clinical improvement in anxiety symptoms, with significant improvements in functional impairment for those who achieved clinically symptomatic improvement. This was not found for symptoms of depression. Due to low response rates, First Steps and Home Straight could only be evaluated qualitatively. Additionally, qualitative exploration led to the identification of five veteran identity typologies (Transformed Veteran, Civilian Veteran, Enduring Soldier, Lost Veteran and Rejected Veteran), each with varied social and economic outcomes. Findings suggests that acceptance of identity change (influenced by validation, gratitude, military support and group status) contributes to our understanding of the relationship between pre-discharge and discharge experiences/identity and post-military identity. 
Conclusion: Findings suggest that occupational identity may be crucial for later occupational and societal integration and support services have a vital role in aiding this process (alongside earlier resettlement provision). The recommendations and implications for these findings include, increasing the harmony and collaboration by necessary AF community stakeholders (e.g. charities, government, civilian employers and the AF) to encourage positive transition and acceptance of change. This may include psychological preparation for civilian life and work, both earlier in the discharge process and in later third-sector support for those who continue to find the transition a challenge. The role work readiness and support services play in occupational transition is also discussed.
Date of Award1 Nov 2019
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • King's College London
SupervisorLaura Goodwin (Supervisor) & Samantha Brooks (Supervisor)

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