New research reveals needs of UK's ex-Service community

This latest research suggests that there are around 6.2 million people within the ex-Service community in the UK. Nearly half of the adult ex-Service community are over the age of 75.

Around 630,000 members of the adult ex-Service community are likely to be experiencing problems getting around outside the home. Large numbers (around 720,000) experience problems with self-care, including exhaustion and pain or difficulty looking after themselves. Mobility and self-care difficulties peak among those aged 75 or over. 

Depression affects around 480,000 members of the adult ex-Service community, around 370,000 report feeling lonely, and around 350,000 are recently bereaved.

The survey results also highlight a number of specific issues which appear to affect the working age ex-Service community disproportionately, compared with the general population.

Veterans aged 16-64 are more likely than the general population of the same age to report a long term illness that limits their activities (24% vs 13%). Working age veterans report living with a number of conditions, including depression (10% vs 6%), back problems (14% vs 7%), problems with their arms (9% vs 5%), legs or feet (15% vs 7%), difficulty hearing (6% vs 2%) and difficulty seeing (5% vs 1%), at a higher rate than the general population of the same age.

Those of working-age (between 16 and 64) are less likely to be employed than the general population aged 16-64 (60% vs 73%), more likely to be unemployed (8% vs 5%) and more likely to be economically inactive (32% vs 22%). Altogether around 700,000 members of the working age ex-Service community (aged 16-64) are currently not in work.

Chris Simpkins, Director General of The Royal British Legion, said:

"The Royal British Legion was founded because after the First World War veterans were, by and large, left to fend for themselves: many faced serious problems finding work, were affected by disability and disfigurement, and many stoically suffered mental distress at what they had experienced. Those days are, thankfully, over. However, while many of today’s ex Service personnel and their families are doing well, this survey provides new evidence of the scale and variety of needs of our community. 

"We will not rest easy while many veterans and their spouses are out of work, while others report loneliness and depression, and while hundreds of thousands report difficulty getting around and have serious care needs. Whilst for two weeks of the year we’re best known for maintaining the memory of the fallen, we work 365 days a year for a better future for the living."

The survey was produced in collaboration with The Forces in Mind Trust. Air Vice-Marshal Ray Lock CBE, Chief Executive of The Forces in Mind Trust said:

"This survey, whilst not claiming to provide absolute certainty, at least provides considerably greater clarity; it should allow those charged with supporting ex-Service personnel and their families to plan and to identify how better to provide that support.

"The need for the State and military charities to support our ex-Service personnel will be enduring, but how, where and to whom, that support is delivered will change, as most certainly will the resource available. We must collaborate, and we must take decisions and act from a position of best possible evidence: independent and credible evidence. The aim of this survey is to provide just such evidence."

The full report is available to download here (16Mb PDF)

or an Executive Summary (4Mb PDF) is also available.