In our family mum and dad are both military veterans. Having served over 40 years between us, my husband found himself back in the military, well kind of, just over two years ago when he took an Full Time Reserve Service (FTRS) post for the British Army. It's like he's serving again, he wears the uniform, wears the rank and everything that goes with it. Unfortunately, as his family, those who support him, we don't receive the benefits of living a military life we only have the downsides. The lengthy separation and a life in control of someone else. There's certainly no welfare support and we feel very out of the loop. We dont seem to come under anyones umbrella and if we have a problem, well we just have to get on with it.
He mostly works away from us and we sometimes see him at weekends. In all honesty we probably see less of him than when he was a full-time, fully signed-up, serving soldier. There are a few families where he's based that are in the same boat as us but the guidance apparently says that the families of those who work in roles similar to my husband are not any units responsibility. We do come under a unique Brigade, but there is never any inclusion with them. No communication to check if we are ok or if we need any support. As someone who has served and also been married to someone who is serving, it's very odd to be so disconnected if not a little disappointing, especially when he feels very much a part of the military community.
Thankfully we are self sufficient and are hardier than most! But what of those families that need some support, families with small children etc. where do they go? You don’t know what circumstance you could find yourself in and when you might need some help. At the very least it would be nice to know that the military base local to a family of serving or FTRS personnel could welcome in those families like us, even though the serving person is not based here, should they need to access their services. Not to take responsibility as such but to provide a service should you need help, signpost you to someone who could help or even to provide use of the gym. It feels even more important as we see more veterans taking up FTRS posts and military families choosing to settle and live married unaccompanied for welfare support services to be reassessed and refreshed to meet an ever changing landscape of need. Even for those serving, if you don't live in a married quarter you are often overlooked and don't always know who to go to should you need help.
I feel very lucky that I belong to the Military Wives Choir where we are based and I know that I have invaluable support whenever I need it from ladies who just 'get the life we live'. They understand the ups and downs of this life, the living apart, no family close by, short-notice changes and everything in between. They are there for us no matter what and will always, whilst there is no other option, be my first call if and when I need help.