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Military Women

Facing the challenges: When women leave the military and head into the workforce

Women veterans without doubt face some of the same challenges that men veterans do during there transition from the military to the civilian workforce. Challenges such as identity crisis, as I’ve posted about previously, difficulties translating our transferable skills into a civilian framework, the fallacy that we veterans can’t think creatively as all we do is take orders, the confusion about the leadership role rankers play and the misconceptions about our leadership styles (we aren’t all Battery Sergeant-Major 'Shut Up' Williams from It ain’t half hot Mum!).


Although we share many of the same challenges as our male counterparts it is important to identify that there are gender specific challenges for veterans, outlined within the study "We also served" probably one of the most comprehensive studies conducted in reference to women veterans in the UK.

In addition to this, it is vital to note that we also face the same barriers other women do in the workplace. Including the well-documented gender wage gap and leadership gap issues, a greater likelihood that we must balance career goals with caregiving responsibilities or our partners service responsibilities if you are a military spouse, and the ongoing battle reference fair maternity policies and flexible working such as #flexappeal gallantly being spearheaded by Anna Whitehouse and Matt Farquharson of Mother Pukka. (I must note that flex appeal campaign is for everyone not just women!).

Now for good measure, let’s throw in the fact that as women coming out of the military, known to society as a predominantly male organisation, we often find ourselves as ‘the odd one out’.


Definitions from Oxford Languages · Learn more

Odd one out

phrase of odd

a person or thing differing from all other members of a particular group or set

Fact is, at present, women veterans are underrepresented, unknown even, from somewhat of a hidden community, invisible shall we say; revealing our service can often be dumbfounding to others, including potential employers, as they suddenly no longer know what tidy box or category to put us into.


After the release of my first blog I was told by a non service woman, in her 30’s… 


"I knew women served, but never really considered women as veterans"


or some words to that effect… #truestory #knifetwist #societalmisconceptions

Although it’s fair to say, particularly with the recent announcement of new funding into research for female veterans plus the plans by the government to develop a women veterans' strategy, that things are definitely going in the right direction for our community of women veterans. The intention for change and equity is absolutely there, however the full suite of required actions and resources are yet to be in place. Therefore this doesn’t change the fact that now, today, women veterans are still often finding themselves facing all of the above challenges, plus many others, fairly independently.


With all this in mind I offer up 4 things that women veterans can start doing today to support themselves with their own transition and succeed in the civilian workforce:

1. DO NOT HIDE! Always value your military service, announce it and be proud of it! It is a part of you and the skills you have gained while serving are invaluable. Your skill-sets are unique and include exactly what most, if not all, employers are looking for. Such as problem-solving, teamwork, high-confidence leadership, life experiences often including time abroad and exposure to different cultures, not to mention your ability to pivot, be proactive and forecast. To paraphrase Liam Neeson “you have a unique set of skills!”


2. Seek out companies that authentically appreciate veterans: companies that are active members of the armed forces covenant. These companies often have programs that help veterans adjust to their new careers and resources such as peer mentors and professional development classes that make the transition easier. A prime of example of this is Amazon most recently endorsed by @johnnymercer the Minister for Defence People and Veterans of United Kingdom


3. Learn about the industry and any company your considering joining: check out employee reviews, connect with employees, check their records on pay; are they below, within or above national average for that job? Look at how and who they promote and look at their policies on things that matter to you such as parental leave. Using websites like can be helpful and enlightening.


4. Build a positive eclectic network: a good mix of individuals including both veterans and non veterans. Social media (LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram etc) is excellent for this! I myself am only just appreciating the benefits of this little tit bit! Ask your network about their experiences. Look for people who work in the industry you want to work in, ask all the questions! Do your research. Consider finding at least two mentors: a veteran and non-veteran woman. Learn about both of their experiences in the civilian workforce to ensure you get a well rounded view point and enable you to cultivate your own understanding and prepare. Remember prior preparation and planning prevents p~%s poor performance and all that.

It’s important that until we have equity in transitional resources, the workplace.. in fact NO, I will rephrase…until women have equity full stop, it’s vital that we use our community to continue to support one another.


However what’s truly imperative as women veterans is that we are proud of and recognise our service as an asset and we continue to utilise the hard earned skills we learned in service by remaining diligent, unwavering and focused during our transition from military life to civilian life.

Like your time in service, the transition/reintegration is a personal journey that only you own.


So own it.




Equality Vs Equity

Striving for Equity in Service and Military Transition: From the viewpoint of a Women Veteran

Recently, there has been an increased focus on the experiences and contributions of women in the military. Both on social media (obviously with The V Word), the media itself and in government. We are making noise and this generating much needed attention for real change.

This also, of course, is creating a space for challenge, which will happen throughout any drive for positive social change. Challenge is good though, like any good educator and coach would say… it facilitates growth! The best way to manage any challenge is through learning. Therefore it’s vital that we continue to speak up, share our individual perspectives and be collaborative in our approach to educating others in the requirement for equity.

As more women are sharing their experiences about service from various branches of the armed forces and stages of the transition /reintegration process, it has become clear that our journey’s are not simply about achieving equality, but about striving for equity.

There are a multitude of reasons behind this pursuit and here’s our two penneth:

  1. Embracing the Unique Experiences

As women veterans we are beginning to recognise, celebrate and share our unique experiences (#Visible #WeSeeYou). We are starting to finally acknowledge our own service, our own needs and in turn identify publicly, that our journey often differs from that of our male counterparts.

This is due to a variety of factors such as physical requirements, differing roles and expectations, medical needs and social dynamics, both within military life and veteran life. Striving for equity, alongside equality, allows us to embrace our distinct perspectives and in turn work towards a more inclusive and understanding environment, that not only values our needs and contributions but respects and supports them.

2. Recognising Intersectionality:

Equity acknowledges that not all service people have the same experiences or face the same challenges. Veterans come from diverse backgrounds and may face additional hurdles based on factors such as race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, neurodivergency or disability. By focusing on equity rather than a one-size-fits-all approach, we are seeking to address these intersecting identities and create a more inclusive space where ALL veteran voices are heard.

3. Transitioning with Success:

The journey of military transition can be complex and challenging for BOTH men and women. However, women veterans often encounter specific obstacles that require attention and support. These challenges include topics such as:

  • Pregnancy
  • Birth
  • Prenatal and Postnatal care
  • Menopause
  • Securing employment opportunities that match our skills and qualifications - which can also encompass additional challenges if upon exit you then take on the role of military spouse
  • Overcoming biases or stereotypes - not only those associated with women in general but those also associated with veterans
  • Negotiating male dominated workplaces
  • Navigating the transition process while often balancing family responsibilities - that research has evidenced generally tend to include greater levels of caregiving responsibilities

It also currently includes a distinct lack of services and resources available specifically for women veterans regarding physical and mental health.

Striving for equity both in service and in military transition means recognising and addressing these unique barriers to ensure women veterans have the same opportunities for success as our male counterparts. It is genuinely NOT to be divisive or ask for ‘special treatment’. We do not want special treatment, we aren't special, we are strong capable service people and veterans that happen to be women and this means that we do have differing needs from our male counterparts, of course we do, its #fact! Therefore, these needs to be addressed in the interest of true acknowledgement of diversity, equality, inclusion and equity. Ultimately it's is about understanding that the demographics of military personnel and veterans has changed and that this needs to be taken into consideration when providing services, support and care.

4. Fostering Supportive Communities/Networks:

Equity in service and military transition also involves fostering supportive communities/networks that not only empower women veterans but serve as inspiration to others. (Hello The V Word! If your not in it please join #ShamelessPlug).

Communities like The V Word provide friendship, mentorship, professional guidance, and a sense of camaraderie among women veterans who have shared similar experiences. It also provides a platform for future generations to see women achieving, striving and thriving in the armed forces.

The reason behind creating gender specific communities relates to the gender specific needs of women veterans - for instance we all know how a lot of blokes feel when we mention periods or menopause! However, even if our male colleagues do feel comfortable discussing such subjects with us, they can’t actually relate.

Adopting a strengths-based* approach to social change and actively working towards equity, will enable us to establish a truly supportive infrastructure that will empower womens continued success both in and out of military service.

5. Advancing the Broader Conversation:

Finally, last but by no means least, the pursuit for equity in service and military transition contributes to a much broader conversation about gender equality and diversity within the UK armed forces.

We ALL should work to serve as advocates for change, raising awareness about the importance of representation, inclusivity, and the unique needs of ALL service members. By highlighting these issues, we promote a more comprehensive dialogue, one that benefits the entire military community and ensures that the UK really is the best place to be for Veterans.

Point is, the issues raised CAN be rectified, what we are asking for is NOT insurmountable, we just need to stand together and use our strengths and skills to create sustainable and impactful action.

Women veterans are currently on an exciting journey to achieve equity in service and military transition. We are out here doing it, highlighting the unique challenges we face and embracing our diverse experiences. We are pushing for social change… for equity, seeking to create an inclusive environment that not only recognises and celebrates our contributions but supports our successful transition and fosters an overall culture of equality and understanding.

Together, we can work towards a future where women veterans are safe, valued, empowered and become part of the 'norm' in every aspect of military life and veteran life #NormaliseTheNorm. Thus securing a stronger, more positive and truly equitable pathway for future service women. A pathway that we would all be truly comfortable watching our daughters, granddaughters, sisters and friends march down.

(Is this another #BraBurningMoment? lol).

*Strengths-based approaches are based on the belief that everyone and ALL communities have skills and strengths, and that change is more likely and more sustainable when we focus on these strengths and possibilities.