Lifting Our Sights – The Future of Transition for the Force Community


Lifting Our Sights is a research project focused on the armed forces community and its transition to civilian life | Credit: Forces in Mind Trust

Mike Ellicock, managing director

Mike Ellicock, Managing Director | Powers in the Spirit Trust

Shifting perceptions is key to our armed forces community thriving in transitioning to civilian life in an ever-changing world.

This month I took on Ray Lock CBE as Chief Executive of Forces in Mind Trust (FiMT). Unless you’ve had a particular interest in arithmetic in the past decade, probably few of you know me, so I thought it was helpful to add a few lines before introducing Lifting Our Sights: Beyond 2030 – The impact of future trends on the transition of our armed forces community from military to civilian life, which together with a strong organization and a fantastic team is Ray’s most important legacy to me.

I served in the armed forces from 1998 to 2005 and led soldiers in combat in Sierra Leone and Iraq. I was wounded in action when my platoon on Op BARRAS, the hostage rescue service in Sierra Leone, advanced towards our destination in September 2000. I made a full recovery, but my operator was less fortunate and was eventually medically discharged.

Since then, I have felt a profound responsibility to support the service staff as much as I can in their transition to civilian life. I had assumed that alongside my main occupation, this would always be more tactical, so I feel privileged to now have the opportunity to make a more strategic contribution, which brings me to our new report, Lifting Our Sights we to the party congresses in autumn.

A willingness to improvise, adapt and overcome will be essential for almost everyone

The exam question for the report was: “How can we improve the transition, not just for those who have recently left the service but also for those who will leave the service in the future? ‘. To answer that, my team and the authors of the Future Agenda report spoke to industry leaders, experts, and people with lived experience to identify the key trends and changes that will affect the armed forces community in the coming decade and beyond. The final report is full of useful lessons, but perhaps most important are the four priority areas of action identified:

  1. Strengthen the system to better support service dropouts through collaboration and data sharing;
  2. Personalization of the transition process;
  3. Empower former soldiers to take responsibility for their military and civil lives;
  4. Providing accurate perceptions, enhancing public understanding of the role of the armed forces and the tremendously valuable and transferable skills veterans can bring to their communities and civilian employment.

Of these, I am most excited about changed perceptions. This is because when entering the post-Covid and post-Brexit world, a willingness to improvise, adapt and overcome will be vital for almost everyone. With the right support at the right time – and with a different perception – veterans and their families may be better placed than many others to take advantage of this unsafe environment.

In the fall we bring Lifting Our Sights to the party congresses. I hope to be able to speak to many of you there.

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