(as at submission on 14 June 2019)
This thesis uses the author’s autoethnographic exploration of military to civilian transition to recommend how current provision for armed forces’ leavers can be enhanced by delivering not just practically-based assistance, but a far more holistic, and emotion-focused psychoeducational support system. Accordingly, it responds to issues raised in recent UK parliamentary reports, bolstered by a raft of additional research, which argues that understanding and assisting military to civilian transition requires scholarly input, as well as political and practical augmentation in the UK. The study determines that this academic examination and any resulting policy and practice alteration must be based on psychosocial consideration of the unique nature of the military environment, and set within the flow of an individual’s life. As this examination highlights, the totalising nature of military experience can result in manifold physical and emotional stressors when transitioning away from it, including for military families.
Conclusions and recommendations are derived from analysing the author’s autoethnographic account in light of pertinent research and theoretical approaches. Principal among these approaches is Schlossberg’s (2011) ‘4 S’ transition framework, which this study uses to determine key transition challenges broadly, as well as to closely examine the military to civilian transition context. Also central is the theory that issues of identity are often dominant in military to civilian transitions, irrespective of the trigger for military exit. Given this, it is proposed that narrative strategies can be used to examine and assuage emotional difficulties and identity strain within an enhanced psychosocial and psychoeducational military to civilian transition support programme; providing for a more dynamically adaptable, resilient and individualised ‘transition bridge’ as a result. They can also be cost effective.
Accordingly, this research outlines how that might take place, and provides a personal example of the use of narrative strategies to illustrate their potential positive effect.