Just as there’s admin and training to be sorted out before you undertake a operational tour, there are a number of processes in place to help you adjust to returning from a period of mobilised service.
There are four stages to demobilisation:
Before returning home, you may undergo a process of ‘winding down’ with your unit in a controlled environment for up to four days. Here, you’ll be given time to relax as well as receive a series of briefings to help prepare you for civilian life. These include:
- An update on media coverage of the conflict you’ve been involved in, so you’ll know what people at home have heard about it.
- A presentation on Post Traumatic Stress Disorder by specially trained medical staff, and the opportunity for one-to-one interviews.
Once you arrive back in the UK, you’ll be taken to your demobilisation centre, where the process of reintegration continues. As well as all the necessary post-operative administration procedures, such as handing back your uniform, you’ll also undergo a series of medical assessments, and receive further briefings on stress, your return to work, welfare guidance and advice. One-to-one and specialist sessions are available throughout your remaining time in service, and can continue for as long as needed
3. Post-operational leave
You’ll then be formally demobilised and free to start your post-operational leave. All Reservists are entitled to a period of leave and you’ll continue to be paid by the MOD during this time. (This usually works out at an average of around 30 days including any amount of annual leave you’ve built up.) Post-operational leave allows you to fully readjust and prepare for civilian life. It’s also an ideal time to get in touch with your employer if you haven’t done so already. Regular contact with your employer will help make your return to work that much smoother. Your final day of post operational leave is known as your last day of whole-time service
4. Last day of whole-time service
Your last day of whole-time service signals your final day of full military pay. You must write formally to your employer to state your readiness to return to work no later than the 3rd Monday following your last day of whole-time service. The start date for your return to work should be within around 6 weeks of your last day of whole time service (the timelines which need to be followed are governed by the Safeguard of Employment Act 1985). See returning to work for more detail.
The importance of keeping in touch
Regular contact with your employer during your post-operational leave will help ease your transition back to work. Most Reservists find it useful if managers and colleagues are kept informed during this period, and to have an informal interview with their boss on their return. This will give you the opportunity to talk about your experiences, if you choose to, and for your employer to update you on what's been going on in your absence.