Over 20,000 personnel leave the Armed Forces each year. Service personnel possess a wide range of skills which make them very valuable assets to civilian employers. Their military background provides skills and a work ethos that would be an asset to any organisation or could provide the foundation stones for the entrepreneurial spirit and self-employment.
Of course, it’s not always that simple. For many the prospect of stepping away from a structured environment must be doubly challenging. The adjustment to civilian life can be difficult enough. Replacing the personal benefits that military service can provide creates a more insidious and so often unsettling experience. For example, how will an officer gain the status, position and recognition he or she worked so hard for and enjoyed whilst in service? How will they make the personal contribution that drove them to achieve success?
The deep psychological motivators are just as applicable to people moving away from the forces as they are to any successful individual. Indeed, the satisfaction of these deep needs plays a key role in the conscious and unconscious decision-making of all human beings, to a greater or lesser degree. Being able to satisfy the ‘drivers’ that help us create a self-identity and, in so many cases, help us validate who we are is fundamental to our sense of well-being.
A study by the UK’s Institute of Economic Affairs in May 2013, reported that 40% of retirees suffer from clinical depression, while 6 out of 10 exhibit a decline in health. Psychologist’s studies highlight that working life provides mental health benefits including:
- A sense of contribution, making a difference in the world
- Being recognised for one’s value and achievements, and being appreciated
- The satisfaction of solving problems and learning new things
- Relationships with work colleagues and a feeling of belonging to something of value
- Daily routines that so often provide much-needed ‘certainty’ in an ever-changing world
- Stimulation from variety and challenge
To obviate the difficulties presented by retirement from the services and to experience a happy and fulfilling life, these deep needs must be considered and satisfied in a different way. A way that allows the individual to be authentic and live their lives in a manner that feels ‘right’ and is congruent with their values and moral code.