When Should You Prepare to Leave the Forces? Check Out These 5 Pointers

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When should you prepare to leave the forces? It’s a common question, and it’s usually asked too late. As a general rule of thumb, the answer is ‘the earlier the better.’ Some would argue that preparations start the second you join… 

There are some great resources to explore during your time in the military (many of them will help you get a head-start on civilian life), but unfortunately, not all veterans take steps to benefit from them. 

If you feel like you could be doing more to prepare, then you’re already on the right track. Here are some pointers from the team at Ex-Military Careers that you might find helpful.

Learning Credit Schemes

The ELC (enhanced learning credit) scheme is designed by the MOD to encourage lifelong learning for service leavers, reducing the cost of formal education. The scheme operates on a tiered system that provides credit based on how many years you’ve served (four years for the lower tier, eight for the higher). 

You can use these credits while you’re still serving, and if you’ve already left, you’ll be able to claim the ELC for up to five years after your leaving date (or ten years if you left the forces before April 1st, 2016). 

It’s worth familiarising yourself with the details here: https://www.enhancedlearningcredits.com/service-leaver/ex-service-guidance

Consent to Let Property

You’ll spend plenty of time moving around in the Forces, which can make getting on the property ladder tricky, especially if you want to rent out your home while you’re on deployment. 

Thankfully, the British government developed the consent-to-let scheme, which enables members of the Armed Forces to reduce the additional costs associated with the process. 

Essentially, the scheme prevents you from having to change your mortgage to buy-to-let, among other benefits (being able to borrow more money against your property for example). It’s worth exploring property investment as soon as possible to set yourself up for the future. 

There are many great armed forces mortgages out there, so it’s worth exploring your options online when you get a chance. 

there’s a dedicated military mortgage comparison site called Forces Compare that you can check out here: https://forcescompare.uk/military-mortgages/

Dedicated Resources

It might seem like you’re on your own when you first start preparing to leave the forces, but you’re far from it, and there are dedicated resources out there to help you. For example, it’s worth checking out: 

A range of care and welfare support options from the  NHS: https://www.nhs.uk/nhs-services/armed-forces-community/veterans-service-leavers-non-mobilised-reservists/

The Royal British Legion: https://www.britishlegion.org.uk/

Veterans Welfare Service from Mind: https://selmind.org.uk/directory/veterans-welfare-service

Our veteran-inclusive recruitment services: https://www.ex-militarycareers.com/info/contact.asp

Building on Online Presence

It can be extremely difficult to stay connected once you leave the forces if you don’t make a conscious effort. The British Army is notorious for not staying in contact once you leave, so make sure you leave a door open for reaching out to your contacts. One of the best ways to do this is to build an online presence – LinkedIn is still one of the best platforms for networking (and it’ll help point you to job opportunities). 

Check out this article from LinkedIn staff on how to build a great LinkedIn profile if you’re not sure where to start: https://www.linkedin.com/business/sales/blog/profile-best-practices/17-steps-to-a-better-linkedin-profile-in-2017

The Armed Forces Covenant 

Ex-Military Careers are proud signatories of the AFC since 2014 – we know first-hand how impactful they can be as an organisation. 

Find their website here for a range of helpful pointers and resources dedicated to supporting service leavers: https://www.armedforcescovenant.gov.uk/