I recently attended the Financial Brief and Housing Brief that are provided by the MOD specifically aimed at Service leavers. Both are full days, they do not come out of your resettlement days and travel warrants can be used to get there and back. I already own my own house with my Fiancé but I thought I would attend the Housing Brief anyway…My motivation for this was not a day out of the office (honest!) but more for the fact that if I ever did fall on hard times after the Army I would know where to turn. Here a representative from the Joint Service Housing Advice Office (JSHAO) goes through in quite a lot of detail the housing options for Service leavers from sneaky ways to stay in your Married Quarter for longer to buying, part-buying, social housing, renting or informing you about facilities such as The Beacon in Catterick which is short term housing for single ex-Servicemen and women until they get on their feet. Whilst people may not think that this day is worthwhile I would recommend that you book on it, at least listen to the opening presentation and get the JSHAO book before leaving. That way you have a source of reference for the future.
The Financial brief however, is an altogether difference cattle of fish! This is another all day affair but not only do I recommend that you stay….all day, more importantly you need to listen. The bulk of the morning is spent going through all the different Pension schemes. This is presented by a representative from the Forces Pension Society. This organisation is COMPLETELY INDEPENDANT from the Military and the MOD and what these people don’t know about Pensions isn’t worth knowing. For the remainder of the day an Independent Financial Advisor chats to you about everything from mortgages, savings, private pensions, life insurance, wills, estate management right down to lasting powers of attorney and care plans!! It all seemed a bit morbid to be honest but then it hits home that this is necessary. If something goes wrong on Civvy Street there is no big green machine behind us to sort it all out…No instant £10k pay out from the Army Dependants Trust and no Unit Welfare Officer to provide support and advice. In all honesty it was a very, very long day sitting down being talked at but I am glad I went because even though I like to think I’m quite a switched on cookie when it comes to my personal admin I still left with a list of ‘things to do’ as long as my arm.
A big plus point of both Briefings is that you can take your Spouse/significant other along and you can be confident that the information you are receiving is impartial, professional and up to date.