• Employment support needs of personnel undergoing a medical discharge: a phenomenological and IPA study based on the experiences of British Army Veterans and Stakeholders

      Thomas, Mike; Mason-Whitehead, Elizabeth; Flood, Grahame H. (University of Chester, 2020-10-30)
      Wounded, injured and sick (WIS) military personnel from operations in Iraq and Afghanistan 2003-14 initially lacked comprehensive holistic recovery support. An Army Recovery Capability (ARC) evolved to improve such support. Future employment is an important factor in recovery and transition. This study examines the employment support needs of Army WIS likely to be medically discharged. Until this study, little research specifically considered such needs. The study examines military to civilian Transition in its widest sense. Holistic Transition involves coming to terms with ‘the new me’, including a civilian identity in a timeframe preceding and extending beyond military discharge. The voice of individual WIS personnel has been lacking in reviewing recovery and transition. Using Interpretive Phenomenological Analysis (IPA), data from twelve medically discharged veterans was triangulated against data from five specialist employment consultants and six military and charity stakeholders. The main findings are that the employment needs of the WIS are not fully defined, identified, assessed or reviewed by the chain of command. Methods of effectiveness (MOEs) are lacking in the MOD, hampering the Army’s capability to manage change and assess the effectiveness of its processes and programmes. A lack of resources, unsynchronised policy, poor communications, and a gap between intent and delivery causes variation in support from the chain of command; whilst compensating charity resources mask inefficiencies in the MOD. Recommendations include a major review of the ARC and the medical discharge process; treating employment support as a subset of a broader Transition; the development of MOEs; greater compliance with policy and improved assurance; further research to examine individual WIS needs and outcomes and the use of identity process theory to enhance understanding of the challenges of change facing service leavers crossing the military-civilian divide. A life-course view is recommended to improve military reintegration and the optimisation of available resources.