Veterans transitioning from the military to civilian life may encounter difficulties in different domains of functioning. Most research in this area comes from the US and Israel, with Veterans in Northern Ireland (NI) in the United Kingdom, remaining an understudied population. This qualitative study aimed to examine the nature of transition experiences of NI Veterans by analyzing responses (N = 252) to an open-ended question related to the transition process, in a self-report survey. Thematic analysis highlighted both positive and negative experiences across high-level themes. These were related to (1a) how good the military life had been, (1b) the transition had been easy for some Veterans, and (1c) the skills gained in the military have been valuable; (2) it was hard to adjust to civilian life/still adjusting; (3) negative employment experiences; (4) lack of trust; (5) transitioning is hard in NI; and (6) inadequate support, post-service. The findings highlight that NI Veterans share some of the same challenges as other Veterans; however, the challenges in NI are compounded by ongoing security concerns and political tensions, which means living under the radar is a reality for many, making finding meaningful work and community integration difficult. The findings indicate that preparation for civilian life and the acculturation process needs to start many months before discharge. Perhaps more crucially, regiments should work closely with and support civilian employers to equip them to recognize and value the skills ex-Services Veterans can offer, and find a good fit for their skills within their organizations.
- Military veterans, Northern Ireland, transition, employment, security, psychological well-being