The general public holds veterans in high regard, and yet is concerned about the institutionalising nature of service and the difficulties of transition to civilian life, according to new research published by Forces in Mind Trust and the Ministry of Defence…

The research, carried out by YouGov and launched to coincide with the new Veterans Strategy, finds wide recognition of the benefits and skills related to serving, yet also a strong public belief that government should do more to support men and women after they leave the Armed Forces.

Those questioned as part of the study commonly associated terms such as ‘brave’, ‘disciplined’, ‘loyal’ and ‘strong’ with those who have served, and the majority thought ex-Service men and women can make a valuable contribution to society. But some believe service comes at a cost, linking it to mental ill health, including post-traumatic stress disorder.

Air Vice-Marshal Ray Lock, Chief Executive of the Forces in Mind Trust, said: “This research highlights the public’s expectation that government should do as much as it can to support the men and women who have served in our Forces, and the high regard they hold them in for doing so.

“The Veterans Strategy, launched today, is a powerful demonstration of the commitment to do just that, and we particularly welcome the inclusion of new census questions from 2021 and a focus on generating reliable data to further our understanding of ex-Service personnel – good policy, after all, starts with good evidence.

“The public view of military service is often broadly held to be one of difficulty and damage. This new research suggests a much more balanced and realistic view among the general population.

“There is a recognition of the benefits, the transferable skills and the positive character traits the Armed Forces offers, yet this sits alongside a similarly strong recognition that some of those who have served may need help, and that government is responsible for providing that help.

“It falls now to all who work to support members of the Armed Forces community, whether government, business or charity, to ensure that the value of the Service leaver is recognised and utilised, and that where help is needed, it is swiftly and adequately provided.

“The Veterans Strategy is a significant step in the right direction on this, and we look forward to working with the MOD and governments across the United Kingdom to translate this vision into a better reality.”

You can read the YouGov public perceptions report here.