Life After Service for UK Ex-armed Forces Personnel

Research Paper Title

Outside the Military “Bubble”: Life After Service for UK Ex-armed Forces Personnel.


Military personnel who have seen active service can be affected by their experiences.

Much of the literature on the mental and physical health battles faced by men and women who leave the Armed Forces is dominated by research in the United States (US), and is particularly focused on exposure to deployment, combat conditions, and effects on mental health.

Research in the United Kingdom (UK) tends to focus on depression or alcohol misuse and the impact these issues have on currently serving personnel.

This study aimed to present UK veterans’ first-hand experiences related to military service, access to and use of mental healthcare and interventions, and the impact of transition on the military family.


Semi-structured interviews explored experiences of 30 participants (27 male, 3 female).

Participants ranged in age from 26 to 92 years (M = 53.33), and across multiple war cohorts (from WWII to Iraq and Afghanistan).

Data were analysed using Thematic Analysis and Narrative Analysis.


Findings show meaning-making from experiences of transition across veteran cohorts.

Main themes were reasons for leaving Armed Forces, life outside the military, and mental health concerns after service.

Subordinate themes additionally focused on evaluation of identity and mental health service provision.


Future clinical research should include the experiences of UK serving personnel and the effects of pre-and post-military adversity, alongside the impact of deployment experiences.

Interventions designed to address transition into life after service are discussed.


Gordon, K., Burnell, K. & Wilson, C. (2020) Outside the Military “Bubble”: Life After Service for UK Ex-armed Forces Personnel. Frontiers in Public Health. doi: 10.3389/fpubh.2020.00050. eCollection 2020.


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