November saw the first Cenotaph Parade for two years, a focal point for the thousands of small acts of remembrance around the country and abroad. These formal occasions quite rightly mark the death of so many in the service of their country, but there is no similar recognition of those whose mental health has been badly affected by their service. The symptoms of this struggle after their service are numerous, from post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, anxiety, thoughts of suicide or problematic alcohol use that can become a crutch for so many. For others it could be the difficulties faced in adjusting to their new lives on ‘civi-street’, so different from what can often be the only job some veterans have ever known. Novelist Andy McNab summed it up like this:
“As a nation, we have invested in them once, now we can get a return on that investment”.
Apart from making sound economic sense, this line of thought seems also to stand up to logic. All the skills learned and experiences gained from being exposed to life in extreme environments can be a boon to many of the offices around the country that have become so disconnected from reality, reinvigorating them with a touch of worldly wisdom.
There is already support for veterans having difficulty getting back on their feet or adjusting to ‘civi-street’, normally coming in the form of general financial aid and more specific needs such as child support and travel costs, but more needs to be done according to some military charities.
At InvestUK we believe in the innate ability of every person to reach their full potential, and, like all of us at some point or another, sometimes even the most war-hardened of us need to be given the opportunity to find their feet and thrive. It’s clear to us what a military mind can bring to an organization. You could say I am biased on the matter, as a veteran of the First Gulf War, but some of the best companies we’ve invested in or work with are making both a difference for and run by veterans. Take Force Select, a specialist recruiter helping ex-service men find their feet after their service. Founded by retired infantry officer Hugh Andrée, who made the transition to civilian life and remembered all too well the uncertainties and loneliness that confronted him upon his departure from the forces. Aston Currency Management, the brain child of ex-marine officer Jay Goss, shows the best of the military mind, with straight-talking assurance; another trail blazer. The past couple of years have seen the UK military working hard, not just protecting our nation from external and internal threats, securing the reliable peace that must be the corner stone that allows a modern society the possibility to flourish, but also abroad. Lesser known engagements include assisting Belize in the wake of Storm Eta and delivering essential aid to the Bahamas following the devastation caused by Hurricane Dorian. If a Global Britain is going to be a success we need all hands on deck, and that means making sure that we return the favour to those choosing a military career, and make sure they remain an asset to the nation following their service.
So, if you want to turbo-charge your business in the post-COVID era whilst repaying the debt that we all owe, hire a veteran. You won’t regret it.