Forces in Mind Trust (FiMT), together with the Officers’ Association has released a new report, which provides a definitive demographic profile of the serving and ex-officer community.
The report was commissioned to help understand the size, nature and needs of present and future officer communities. The Forces in Mind Trust (FiMT) awarded £43,149 to the Officers’ Association and the six month study was conducted by the Institute of Public Care at Oxford-Brookes University, and project-managed by Mazia Yassim, Research Associate at the Officers’ Association.
What are the key findings from the report?
The report states that there are over 26,820 serving UK officers, and an estimated 371,600 veteran officers in Great Britain, including 19,200 over ninety years of age.
The study of the demographics of the serving and former officer community and their dependants indicates that the number of serving officers is likely to remain around 27,000 for the foreseeable future, with 12,590 Army, 6,770 Royal Navy/Royal Marines and 7,460 RAF officers in 2016.
Many of the needs of current and former officers were repeated in both the primary and secondary research conducted for the study. In particular, help with transition in finding employment, concerns about finding affordable and good quality accommodation, the difficult decision around whether or not families should move with the serving officer and the strains of separation versus the lack of continuity, and the challenges faced by the spouse were recurring themes.
It is estimated that there are over 116,000 officers with long-term illnesses which significantly limit their ability to undertake day to day activities and over 27,000 with dementia, but these numbers will fall dramatically in the next 20 years.
Research indicated that changing terms and conditions, along with greater participation in the workforce of the (mainly) female partners of officers, is likely to lead to a higher turnover of officers with many leaving at a younger age than previously. This is likely to increase the need for services around transition, including finding accommodation, and help with the move into civilian employment for former officers. It may also affect the projected number of former officers, resulting in a higher number than projected in this report.
There was a view that the OA and other service charities need to raise their profile and their influence on behalf of the service community, as well as raising awareness among serving officers to ensure that they are aware of the help that is available.
In a statement on FiMT’s website, Ray Lock CBE, Chief Executive of Forces in Mind Trust, said: “Improving our understanding of the profile of the current and ex-serving officer community is an important piece of work. Without a proper knowledge of the size and needs of the officers’ community, and a forecast of how that might change, the sector cannot understand how best to support them and their families in leading successful and fulfilled civilian lives. We welcome the findings of this report, which concludes that serving and ex-serving officers can suffer increased barriers to help-seeking, but overall their needs are really no different to those of the general ex-serving population. What this report challenges us to identify, as the sector plans for the years ahead, is the optimum way in which we can deliver the necessary support, whether it be welfare or other types.”