On the front line of recruiting and supporting ex-service people

23 Jun 2023

Trigger warning: please note this content contains references to drug abuse, alcohol abuse, PTSD, suicide.  

When it comes to the qualities former armed service people bring to the workplace, Ingeus needs no persuading of their value.

In fact, the business is actively seeking ex-forces personnel through recruitment sites aimed specifically at those who have served their country and are now looking for jobs on ‘civvy street’.

Reliability, strong leadership, great teamwork, spot-on timekeeping, fierce work ethic, and an ability to think on their feet – all sought-after attributes that Craig Robbins says veterans can bring to any role. And the Personal Wellbeing Advisor, based in South Warwickshire, should know. When it comes to lived experience of what it’s like to come out of the forces and find worthwhile work, Craig’s been there, done that, worn the flak jacket. 

Wanting to use his experience even further, Craig  volunteered to chair the Ingeus Armed Forces Network, which exists to help service veterans settle in once they join the business. In the lead-up to Armed Forces Day on 24 June he is helping to produce a guide for Ingeus managers on what to expect when an ex-service person joins their team. It includes a wellbeing action plan and advice on the triggers that may bring back painful or horrific memories for veterans.

“It might sound silly but on bonfire night the sound of fireworks might affect people,” he says. “Remembrance Day and even Armed Forces Day can be a time when memories of mates lost in action resurface.”

The handbook also includes a directory of support services, many of them local charities, that managers can signpost for those who feel they need it.

Craig knows all about the difficulties some may encounter on leaving the forces. He spent 12 years in the Royal Greenjackets, serving on the front line in places like Bosnia, Northern Ireland and Kenya. He rose to the rank of corporal but decided to leave the Army to spend more time with his wife and two young children. 

The 45-year-old says he experienced dark days once he left his uniform behind, despite finding work giving close protection to some well-known celebrities. Experiencing PTSD, he turned to alcohol and drugs to “dull my brain” against the memories, even contemplating suicide.

Now he is putting that experience and those memories to positive use, supporting people on probation who may be fighting their own demons. It also means he can help colleagues from across the business making the transition to a new way of life. He has introduced a section on the company intranet with advice for veterans themselves or their colleagues, as well as regular online drop-in clinics where people can talk directly to him.

“It’s not just for those who have served,” he says, “but their partners, children and families who may all have been affected by the loss or illness of a loved one or having to deal with long periods of separation.

“The support Ingeus gave me when I joined two years ago was just what I needed, it was superb. I can’t imagine working for anyone other than Ingeus.

“We are bronze level signatories of the Armed Forces Covenant, which shows we are veteran-friendly, but we are looking to go to the next, silver stage in recognition of the support we offer.

“I think Ingeus could become one of the leading employers of ex-service people. They have a niche set of skills and experience that are valuable to any business but particularly one like ours where often we are helping people who are struggling in life.

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