Empowering service families with the information and advice they need, to make informed decisions about their finances in an easy to understand way. Advice for the military community from one forces family to another.
On Sunday, Prince Harry launched the third Invictus Games in Toronto at the opening ceremony, where 550 athletes from 17 nations will compete in 12 various sporting disciplines over eight days. The UK team trained at the sports training village at the University of Bath following their selection back in April.
The Invictus Games 2017, Toronto
Prince Harry created the Invictus Games in 2014 with the intention of giving injured or sick Armed Forces personnel the chance to compete in Paralympic-style multi-sport events against other countries, including wheelchair basketball and indoor rowing.
Due to the location and time difference of this year’s games, the BBC are only showing highlights and interviews from the games at the following times:
Donna (Dot) McLennan is the latest addition to the Evolution Forces Families team, and has taken up the role of Office Manager. She is an Army wife and Mum to a boy and a girl. Here’s her family’s military journey…
I met my husband Chris back in 1998 through my work as a swimming teacher. He’s been in the Army for 25 years, so we are very used to military life! We got to know each other as friends, but then began dating in 2000. Our son, Noah, was born in 2002 and we got married in 2003 and moved into our very first married quarters together as a family in Chivenor, Devon.
I loved life in Devon, and became the manager of a leisure centre in Barnstaple. I worked there for 7 years until Chris received a posting order for Paderborn, Germany. We moved there in 2009, whilst I was expecting our daughter, Ettienne. We loved Paderborn as a family, but our adventures there were short, as we had to move back to Chivenor in 2011. I was, however, lucky enough to get my old job at the leisure centre back. We stayed in Devon for 2 more years until Chris was offered the role of RSM for 35 Engineers, so back to Paderborn we went. We had an enjoyable 2 years back in Germany, and as I wasn’t on maternity leave this time around, I worked for the BFG (British Forces Germany) Office, which was fantastic.
Chris’ next challenge, in 2015, was to assume the position of Corps RSM at 1RSME in Brompton, Kent. This move back to the UK also brought a huge challenge for me, as just 10 days after our move, I was diagnosed with breast cancer. It was a devastating blow for me, but Chris was great. We are a very private family, so I chose to deal with it within the confines of our close support network. Following my surgery and treatment, which was thankfully successful, I returned to work as an office admin assistant, and once I had the ‘all clear’ I could also go back to teaching what I loved; swimming. I enjoyed both of these challenges alongside each other – and still do – as now I also get to help military families as well as teach swimming.
As you can probably guess, I love fitness! It helped me through my treatment; just a few weeks after surgery I went out running (when I felt up to it), and just a year after beating cancer I found ‘Team Phoenix’ through a close friend. They help breast cancer survivors with fitness training programmes and with their help, I completed my first triathlon at Heaver Castle in 2016. This year I am currently looking forward to competing in the River Dart 10k.
One of my best and most memorable moments of Army life so far was meeting the Queen when she visited Brompton Barracks for the tercentenary of the Corps of the Royal Engineers. It was very surreal, and she was lovely!
I like our Army life [being a very private family]. We’ve been lucky and have always had good accommodation to live in. I am looking forward to working with Nadine and the rest of the Evolution Forces Families team, as I am ready for a new challenge in life.
I know how limiting it can be as a forces family when it comes to getting the right answers to some of life’s big questions. Evolution Forces Families provide an excellent service with guidance and support to the serving and retired community, I am really looking forward to becoming a part of all of this.
This post is the final blog in a three part series covering armed forces pensions. In the earlier blogs you will have seen that armed forces pensions is a complex area to deal with. There are several different schemes which affect what can be drawn from the pension and when. I normally find that the pension holder often knows quite a lot about the pension and can give a lot of helpful information at an early stage. Particularly when they have served in the forces for around 20 years and are possibly thinking about leaving and moving into civilian life….
In the Part 1 of this blog series I explained the different ways armed forces pensions can be treated on divorce. I ended with a comment as to how the Early Departure Payment (EDP) could be affected by the way an armed forces pension is dealt with on divorce.
It’s probably easier if I explain what this can mean by giving an example of a case I was involved with, where this was important.
I was acting for the wife who had quite serious health problems. The husband was in the army and at the time of the divorce the husband had served approximately 20 years and was looking to leave….
There are extra costs to think about when going on holiday or travelling, especially during the school holidays. Here’s how you can help keep track of your spending.
According to research conducted by a popular high street bank*, despite 58% of us making a holiday budget, the average overspend on holiday is a huge £220 more than planned each year.
So how can you be sure to stay on track as much as possible on your holidays? Here are our top tips:
Mobile Phone bills
Avoid huge bills for calls or roaming charges if going abroad by contacting your service provider and checking what rates they charge. Check if the hotel or accommodation you are staying at has Wi-Fi, and if so USE IT. Until you can connect to Wi-Fi, keep your phone in airplane mode and turn off your phone’s data roaming function. We’re sure you can live without Facebook for a few hours.
Travel and Accommodation
When booking your travel and accommodation, make sure that you shop around to find the best deal. This may be well in advance or a last-minute deal, whichever suits you. Also check the company and hotel’s policy on cancellation or amendment of dates or details; especially important if you are a military family! The last thing you want is to be stung with a huge cancellation fee if a deployment comes up. Also, if you are flying, double check the airline’s baggage allowances before you leave home and invest in a set of hand held baggage scales to ensure that everyone’s bags are within the allowable limit, so that you are not hit with excess baggage charges before you even take off!
Food and Drink
Make sure that you check the food and drink inclusivity of your holiday; are you self-catered, half board or full board? Are drinks included? Are there tea and coffee making facilities in your room? Also, be weary of mini bars – drinks are often extortionately priced but not always advertised as such! If you have opted for self-catered, make a clear budget of your daily spend on food and drink per person in your party and stick to it as much as possible.
Out and About
When out on day trips, check the ticket prices for popular tourist attractions before you leave, and purchase your tickets in advance, where possible, to save a few quid. Have a look at which attractions (if any) offer Armed Forces discount, and if there are any online offers available. Most of the time, buying tickets on the day can work out a lot more expensive.
If travelling abroad, shop around for the best foreign exchange rates to get the most for your money. Avoid buying your currency at the airport / on board your ferry wherever possible, as these quite often end up being a lot more expensive as their rates aren’t as good. Also make a list of all the holiday essentials that you’ll need for your family, like sun creams, sunhats, flip flops, etc, so that you don’t have to panic buy them at the airport or at a service station, where they will more than likely be overpriced. Preparation is key, as over 18%* of overspending is as a result of holidaymakers having to buy things that they forgot to pack.
If you haven’t already, download our FREE monthly budget planner which will help you keep a track of your finances every month, but also allow you to easily create an affordable holiday budget which is affordable.
I don’t want to buy a house, so what help can I get with accommodation after leaving the Armed Forces?
Even though Forces Help to Buy is a great scheme offered by the Government, it isn’t the right option for everyone. Whether you are leaving the Armed Forces through choice, retirement, redundancy or medical discharge, there is help available to you and your family.
Joint Service Housing Advice Office (JSHAO)
If you are leaving the Armed Forces and still live in service accommodation (SFA/SSFA), then contact the Joint Service Housing Advice Office for advice, as they can provide you and your dependents with information and advice about making the move into civvi life, and can also help you with the moving process.
Local Council Housing
If you are a veteran, you can get help with somewhere to live via your local council. They can offer you free advice on the different housing options available, and are legally obliged to help house you if you are homeless, or threatened with homelessness, and you meet their criteria. You can find out who the housing contact is for your local council at: https://www.gov.uk/find-local-council.
Single Persons Accommodation Centre for the Ex Services (SPACES)
Not everyone leaving the Armed Forces has a partner or dependents to consider, but there is still help available to you if you are single when leaving the services. SPACES can help you to find either temporary or permanent housing throughout the UK if you contact them within six months of leaving. However, if it’s been longer than six months since you left, they can still offer you information and advice on housing.
Veterans UK – Help for Disabled Veterans
If you are a disabled veteran who requires adaptations to a house, or need everyday help, you can either contact your local council for help, or the welfare department of Veterans UK. If you choose to speak to your local authority for help and advice, have a look first at what services they may be able to offer you.
Royal British Legion
The Royal British Legion have six care homes across the UK providing both long and short term care that are especially for ex-service personnel and their dependents. Several of these care homes offer specialised dementia care. If this applies to you (or a relative), visit their website to find out more about this option.
Whatever your financial situation when you leave the Armed Forces, there will always be help and advice available to you and your dependents in finding housing if you need it.
Armed Forces Day, which this year falls on Saturday 24th June, is a chance to celebrate and support the men and women who make up our Armed Forces community; whether they are currently serving, veterans, cadets or Service families (as they need some recognition too!)
So why should we celebrate our Armed Forces?
By publicly celebrating and showing support for the Armed Forces, we provide a much valued morale boost for our troops and their families. You can find out more about what the difference Forces are currently doing both in the UK and globally by visiting the official sites of the Royal Navy, British Army and Royal Air Force.
The British public show their support and celebrate our Armed Forces on Armed Forces Day, but the Government, businesses and communities also support Armed Forces personnel, both past and present, throughout the year in the Armed Forces Covenant.
Across the country there will be parades, parties and events celebrating our Armed Forces. You can look up if there is an event running near you here. Also make sure that you check if your child’s pre-school or school are doing anything to celebrate – a great way for non-military children to learn about what sacrifices military families make.
Evolution Forces Families (EFF) are pleased to announce their partnership with the Veterans Bereavement Support Service (VBSS). This partnership will see Anna Harrison (EFF) attend VBSS’ Romsey office every week to offer a drop-in advice service. EFF as a company will also offer support to the VBSS in other ways, including at community events.
The Veterans Bereavement Support Service currently refer local clients to Nadine Monks of Evolution Forces Families, who require financial advice or their Will writing service. EFF plan to develop this service in other areas too.
Paul Burrows-Gibson, founder of the Veterans Bereavement Support Service is really excited about this partnership: “As a community organisation that works with veterans and their families as they work through the bereavement and loss process, the partnership with EFF will not only enhance our services to those who wish to plan ahead, but also provide essential support to forces and veterans families at the time of greatest need. We are looking forward to developing services more with Anna and Nadine, who both have strong family links with the Services.”
Nadine Monks, managing director of Evolution Forces Families commented: “The work VBSS do is such an important part of a largely ‘taboo’ subject, no one likes to think about their death or of their loved ones, but it is our role to help individuals address their inevitable needs if/when the worst happens. VBSS and Paul is a grass roots organisation in their approach and share many of the same values as EFF by treating all of their clients as family and holding their hand along the way. We already offer remote support via the internet regardless of location and are hoping to expand our network of advisers to other areas outside of Hampshire and Kent towards the end of the year to support this project and grow with them.”
About the Veterans Bereavement Support Service (http://www.veteransbereavementsupport.co.uk)
The Veterans Bereavement Support Service was created by those who have served in the Armed Forces and Merchant Navy to provide a specialist bereavement support network for both those who serve and have served, and also their family at the time of need. Since its inception, the service has grown and through the massive network of professionals we are able to offer a comprehensive range of services that support people not just after they have lost someone special but also before, so that the support is available and that they can plan ahead.
We offer a bespoke service for families needing assistance with bereavement and support including advice on funeral care 365 days a year from our national office in Romsey.
There are no charges for our main services and we are constantly developing new services across the Country.
About Evolution Forces Families (http://evolutionforcesfamilies.co.uk)
Evolution Forces families are a team of qualified financial advisors who are all spouses of either current or ex-serving military personnel. Our offering is based on many years’ experience within financial services and military life. This means we can offer you sound advice with a greater understanding of your lifestyle and the issues you face. Our service is based on a personal and caring approach, where we take the time to listen to what it is you really want to achieve and work with you to find the right solution.
The Reserve Forces have always played an essential role in our Armed Forces. Through their dedication and professionalism, they make a vital contribution to protecting the UK’s security, both at home and overseas. June 21st 2017 is Reserves Day, when we celebrate all that they do, and Reservists are encouraged to wear their uniform to their civilian place of work for the day.
So, who are Reservists and what do they do?
They give up their TIME
Reservists give up their spare time to serve in the Reserve Forces, perfecting the balance between their civilian life and their military career.
They WORK with the Regulars
Reservists play an essential role working alongside out regular Armed Forces. They particularly provide support in specialist areas such as cyber and medical. Reserve units are more commonly paired with Regular units, and accompany them on deployments.
They are DIVERSE
Reservists come from all parts of the community and from all walks of life.
They take part in a range of OPERATIONS
Just like Regulars, Reservists regularly take part in humanitarian and peace keeping operations, including the United Nations’ Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus. They currently support many other operations Worldwide, including global counter-terrorism.
Reserves Day, which takes place on Wednesday 21st June this year, is an opportunity to recognise and celebrate the important part that Reservists play in supporting the UK’s defence capability. Reservists have always played, and will continue to play, a key role in our Armed Forces, making a valuable contribution to the nation over and above their civilian day jobs.
Employers’ views on Reservists
Reserves Day is also a fantastic opportunity for employers to recognise their Reservist employees and celebrate the contribution that they make. Employers are encouraged to allow their Reservist employees to wear their uniform to work for one day, where possible.
Vicky spoke to 2nd Lt Alex Hadcock who has been an Army Reserve for 4 years about his experience: “The training that the reserves offers is unparalleled in civilian life, covering leadership, teamwork, specialist skills depending on your trade, fitness and more. The instructors are the best in the world and the fact that you get paid for training is the icing on the cake. Once trained you can do some fantastic work; interesting demanding and extremely rewarding, all over the world. You will benefit from experiences that only military work can offer. Being a reservist means that you can balance all of this with your normal life, choosing how much you do and when you do it, and the broad range of skills you get from both your civilian and military side makes you a valuable asset to both. Above all, people who volunteer to be reservists share the same goals and mindset, meaning you will meet some outstanding people and make friends for life. You also get all of the benefits of military life – sports, fitness, adventure training and travel. As a civil servant in the civilian world – the civil service being very generous with taking time off for reserves activity – I am able to make the most of what the reserves have to offer and would highly recommend it to anyone.”
In this three part blog series Hazel Manktelow of specialist family law firm, Family Law Partners discusses how Armed Forces/Military Pensions can be managed during a divorce.
Pensions can be a tricky area to deal with during a divorce, often because they are not properly understood. There are many different types of pensions and one of the most challenging, and interesting, types to deal with are military pensions – army, naval, royal air force. This blog only touches the surface of this area but hopefully will give guidance on things to think about when dividing a military pension on divorce. This blog is one of three posts, the second post will highlight a case example and the third will give you specific questions to ask if you are separating from your spouse and have an armed forces pension.
There are three ways pensions can be dealt with during a divorce…