Supporting the Armed Forces Community – Past and Present
The Armed Forces Community (AFC) – which includes veterans, serving military personnel, reservists and their families – deserves our utmost respect and backing for their outstanding dedication and sacrifices on behalf of our community and country.
The demands imposed on the Armed Forces in the course of their duty are unique and set them apart from others who serve and protect society.
Therefore the Council is determined to fulfil its obligation to them by increasing awareness about, and access to, the support and help available to the AFC. This page is one aspect of this, and is aimed at members of our AFC.
Our Commitment to the Armed Forces Community
In March 2012, the Council was delighted to make its own support official by signing a local Armed Forces Covenant. The covenant is a voluntary agreement between the local civilian and service community – to work together to support and honour our AFC (past and present).
The Council signed a new Armed Forces Covenant in January 2020.
This complements the national Armed Forces Covenant – a promise from our nation that those who serve or have served, and their families, are treated fairly. It has two underlying principles to ensure this promise is fulfilled:
- Members of the armed forces community should face no disadvantage compared to other citizens in the provision of public and commercial services; and
- Special consideration is appropriate in some cases, especially for those who have given the most such as the injured or the bereaved.
The Council is determined to fulfil its obligation to our local AFC by working with our partners to help ensure that:
- The needs of our local AFC are being identified and met;
- Their military service does not result in them being disadvantaged compared to other citizens; and
- Their contribution to our community is remembered, honoured and celebrated;
The Council has also appointed an Armed Forces Champion, Councillor Bob Cook, who is also the Leader of the Council. As Armed Forces Champion his role is to ensure the Council keeps working towards achieving these commitments, and make sure that any obstacles are removed.
Every June there is a national Armed Forces Week celebration to bring communities together to show their support to the armed forces – past, present and future.
Our Council helps organise local Armed Forces Week events and activities to provide opportunities for individuals, groups, organisations, schools, colleges and businesses to show their support. The details are publicised on the Tees Valley events website.
This year we are once again having to plan for celebrating Armed Forces Week 'at home' with an online programme of activities and events. This will be publicised closer to the time. It will include lots of activities and ideas about how you can show your support and celebrate our amazing armed forces community from home.
For more information about our Armed Forces Week contact the Mayor's Office on 01642 528161 or e-mail [email protected].
Get all the latest Armed Forces news
To keep up to date with the latest Armed Forces news the British Forces Broadcasting Company has set up a specialist website called Forces.Net. It probably has everything you could possibly want to know or find out the UK forces – including videos, photos, articles, social media, and radio programmes. You should find it of interest whether you are still serving or are a veteran.
A military-themed information chat show called On Parade has been set up on YouTube. It includes a variety of discussions about issues facing veterans in Civilian Life. Hosted by ex-Parachute Regiment soldier, Neil 'Taff' Davies (who is also an award-winning documentary filmmaker and author), and Shaun 'Johno' Johnson, ex-Royal Artillery and a stage and screen actor.
If you need help, it's okay to ask for it!
Asking others for help can be one of the hardest things to do. That’s why it takes strength and courage to do so. Everyone needs help sometimes. Things happen, and occasionally it can feel like you’re the only one struggling.
However strong you are, we all need support – so it’s important that you don’t try and cope on your own.
The fact that you, or your loved one, took the massive step to serve your country and risk the ultimate sacrifice, should not stop you from asking for help!
There are literally hundreds of organisations whose sole aim is to help and support the armed forces community. They won’t judge you – they do what they do because they want to help – and many of their volunteers or workers may have been where you are now. So if you need help, it’s okay to ask for it!
Support for Veterans
We recognise that leaving the armed forces is a major life-changing experience. Few career changes require as much adjustment as that of leaving the military and returning to a civilian lifestyle. Many veterans find that their service life of strict routine and structure bears no resemblance to that of the average UK citizen. Often the world outside of the services has moved on significantly since they enlisted.
The majority of service-leavers successfully transition back into civilian life. A small number find it very difficult. Others find themselves needing help further down the line.
Where to start?
With so many organisations supporting veterans and their families, finding the right one for your needs may seem off-putting. If you are not sure where to start, go to the Veterans’ Gateway (VG) first.
Their goal is to put veterans and their families in touch with the organisations best placed to help with the information, advice and support they need – when they need it – from healthcare and housing to employability, finances, personal relationships and more.
They provide 24-hour support, 7 days a week through the Veterans' Gateway website and Contact Centre Helpline 0808 802 1212. You can also contact them by e-mail, text and online ‘Live-chat’.
Many of the team are veterans themselves so they understand the issues that people face after leaving the armed forces. They will work with people on a one-to-one basis, connecting them with the right support as soon as possible.
Other Sources of Information for Veterans and their families
The information below contains other sources of help available to veterans. They have been put into themed categories and cover all areas of life. Have a look and see if there are any that you could benefit from.
|Benefit entitlement||Compensation for veterans|
|Dealing with debt||Employment and education|
|Financial assistance||General information|
|Resettlement Support||Services for injured veterans|
Support for Serving Personnel and their families
There are several initiatives as part of the Armed Forces Covenant designed to provide support for serving personnel and their families.
The Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Families Association (SSAFA) armed forces charity has produced an Additional needs and disability: a guide for service families publication which includes a directory of support across all three services.
There is a 'A to Z' about working, jobs and pensions for armed forces on the Government website.
Here are some real life examples of how the armed forces covenant can help:
The Army Families Federation (AFF) is the independent voice of Army families and works hard to improve the quality of life for Army families worldwide on any aspect that is affected by the Army lifestyle. Its role is to highlight problems to the ‘chain of command’ or service providers, and to work with them and other agencies to improve the support they provide to Service families.
The Naval Families Federation (NFF) seeks to ensure naval families are heard by those in positions of power; feel valued and be treated with fairness and respect; and thrive in their communities of choice. They provide a number of services to help and support those serving in the Navy and their families.
RAF Families Federation (RAF FF) represents the concerns of RAF personnel and their families (spouses, partners, parents, grandparents, children, siblings) to senior RAF, MOD staff and ministers. They provide a number of services to help and support those serving in the RAF and their families.
Support for Reservists and their families
As a reservist, there’s a great deal of support available to you. At every stage of a reservist’s career, there are rights and responsibilities for both reservists and employers. As some are governed by law (e.g. the legal right to reinstatement in civilian jobs after a period of mobilised service), it’s important to be aware of them.
The ‘Defence Relationship Management’ (DRM) service has been set up as a single point of contact linking employers with the MOD. It offers advice and support on employing members of the armed forces community.
If you have any questions that are not answered in the rights and responsibilities for reservists and employers, or you are experiencing difficulties with your employer, you can contact your Unit Employer Support Officer.
Each unit has an Employer Support Officer who is the main authority on employer issues. Your detachment commander or Permanent Staff Administrative Officer (PSAO) will be able to put you in touch. Employer Support Officers can give you legal advice or tips on how best to talk to your employer to encourage them to support your reserve service.
You can also contact the DRM Helpline (0800) 389 5459 from Monday to Friday between 9am and 5pm, or report disadvantage at work online.
Due to the mobility of service, personnel and their families can often be disadvantaged in the provision of commercial products and services compared to other citizens. This is called commercial disadvantage.
Overcoming it is a priority for the Government and the Ministry of Defence (MOD). They are very keen to hear from anyone who feels they have suffered this disadvantage because of their own, or a family members’ service. You can highlight issues by completing this short survey.