Jordan Wylie Army Cadets 2

Life After the Army: Finding Purpose After the Military

Life After the Army: Finding Purpose After the Military

23 March 2022

For many ex-service men and women in the UK, finding purpose after the military is an uncertain journey. While serving, each day is structured around objectives; there’s an imperative to get up every morning, and teamwork and camaraderie are an innate part of the day. Then there’s the feeling of productivity – of doing genuinely impactful work – along with a strong sense of direction. Upon leaving the army, the sudden loss of this momentum can leave veterans feeling unfocussed, unsure of what the next step is.

Adapting to a new life on civvy street isn’t easy. At first glance, skills gained in the military don’t appear to be transferable to, say, an office job, and compared to the regimented and purposeful lifestyle of a soldier, everything else can feel a little… flat. However, there are dozens of ways military veterans can both put their skills to use, and find a similar way of life to the one they’ve come to know.

Life after military service

Almost every skill learned in the army is incredibly desirable to employers and individuals needing help in the local community. If you were hiring new talent, who better than an ex-army candidate who’s demonstrably smart, dependable and driven? Throw in the fact that veterans have been trained to be punctual, calm under pressure, understand logistics, and have well-developed leadership skills, and it’s difficult to think of an employer, volunteering opportunity or community that wouldn’t benefit enormously from the contribution of ex-service men and women.

Opportunities for finding purpose after the military

Some of the most common paths for army veterans include:


High physical fitness, a strongly defined sense of purpose, and great friendships and camaraderie make working in the fire department familiar territory for army veterans. Staying calm under pressure and being able to concoct and execute plans on the fly is a must.

Police officer

With similar hierarchies and regimented working methods, it’s easy to see the appeal of the police force to veterans. As well as being engaging both physically and mentally, it gives ex-soldiers a chance to reconnect with their communities and find purpose in keeping their area safe.

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An ability to stay calm and functional in situations where others may panic and make mistakes primes ex-soldiers for work as paramedics. The fast pace of the work will sit comfortably with those who’ve served in the military, and the constantly changing nature of the role will mirror the diversity of work in the field.

Photo by Mikhail Nilov from Pexels

Postal worker

The post office is a well-oiled machine, operating around completing clear daily goals. Again, it’s tightly connected to the local community, which works for instilling a new sense of belonging once veterans are back home. The days are also varied, and for those seeking to stay active, there are plenty of roles beyond those seated at a desk.

Local council member

Volunteering with the local council can play to an ex-soldier’s strengths in logistics, communications, and leadership. Whether it’s the renovation of a new park, allocation of funds, or resolving any number of problems that could crop up in the local area, a military mindset can help to get plans moving, and smooth over any bumps in the road.


A newer addition to the list of post-military options, cyber security is tremendously relevant and important in the modern world – and many veterans have skills in this area. Potential cybersecurity roles suitable for veterans include security consultant, operations managers, and penetration testers – finding flaws and testing backdoors in security systems.


Many ex-military personnel go into construction when they arrive back home. It’s easy to see how skills perfected in the army can easily transfer: communication, teamwork and usage of computerised planning programmes is a huge boon, as is knowledge of engineering and experience handling heavy equipment.


For many ex-military personnel, the security mindset is hard to shake, and working in private security is a logical step. This might be providing security for a specific company or building, for the transit of special goods, or for important individuals. It’s a great way to keep the wits sharp, and usually allows for plenty of travel.

Charity work

From soup kitchens and homeless shelters to fundraising events and refugee aid, there is a dizzying number of charities out there who need every extra pair of hands they can get. An ex-military team member could make all the difference to their work – as well as providing the individual with a strong sense of purpose, community, and satisfaction.

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Volunteering with the Army Cadets

The ACF challenges young people to be the best they can be. From fieldcraft and adventure training to first aid, music, sports, and shooting, we give every cadet the chance to find new hobbies and make new friends. Many of our adult volunteers are ex-military and use the Army Cadets as a means of passing on all the positive lessons they’ve learned during their time in the Armed Forces.

If you’d like to get involved with helping young people get active, motivated and inspired, get in touch with the Army Cadets today.