“No man's land”: the transition to civilian life
Journal of Aggression, Conflict and Peace Research
Article publication date: 5 April 2013
Ex‐service personnel face numerous and significant problems upon discharge from the forces. The purpose of this paper is to explore experiences of the transition from military to civilian life and to identify some of the barriers and facilitators to re‐employment.
In‐depth interviews were carried out with 11 ex‐servicemen who had previously served in the UK armed forces and analysed using interpretative phenomenological analysis (IPA).
Participants described their experiences in terms of three broad themes: characteristics of a military life; loss as experienced upon return to civilian life; and the attempt to bridge the gap between these two lives. Transcending these themes was the notion of identity, illustrating that the transition from military to civilian life can be viewed as a shift in sense of self from soldier to civilian.
The current study only recruited male ex‐service personnel and therefore the findings may not accurately represent the experiences of female service leavers.
The military needs to ensure that not only is support provided for all service personnel, but that it goes beyond basic vocational advice. Although the needs of ex‐service personnel are defined by factors other than unemployment, such as trauma or the sudden loss of security, they do relate back to unemployment in some capacity. Methodological changes to the discharge process could help this population to achieve a more continuous trajectory rather than a fragmented one.
The present study has provided further insight into the identity experiences of ex‐service personnel along their journey from soldier to civilian. Breakwell's Identity Process Theory provided a valuable framework for understanding the experiences of ex‐service personnel.
Brunger, H., Serrato, J. and Ogden, J. (2013), "“No man's land”: the transition to civilian life", Journal of Aggression, Conflict and Peace Research, Vol. 5 No. 2, pp. 86-100. https://doi.org/10.1108/17596591311313681
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