People from all backgrounds can become foster parents. In fact, most people do not realise how their backgrounds and professional experience qualify them to care for a child or young person. In particular, ex-military carers could have a substantial impact on a child’s life by utilising their transferable skills from their military service.
Compass understands how difficult it can be to transition from the armed forces to civilian life, especially when you are looking for a job. Even though armed forces leavers have many career options available to them, fostering may provide the mental stimulation and satisfaction that other jobs can’t.
Because of it’s drastic difference from life on the frontline, fostering often escapes the attention of many armed forces leavers, but making the transition to a foster carer can have an abundance of benefits for ex-military carers.
The benefits of fostering as an ex-military carer
Compared to other foster carers, ex-military carers are highly disciplined and adaptable, which are invaluable qualities when caring for children or young people who have experienced trauma and difficult upbringings. Armed forces leavers are also typically used to working under stressful conditions, which can be a huge advantage when it comes to fostering.
Our ex-military carer Sharon said her time in the armed forces made her extremely resilient, which she has found helpful throughout her time as a foster carer. Sharon also said that her time in the armed forces gave her crucial medical knowledge, which has also aided her on her fostering journey.
Armed forces families may also have a greater sense of teamwork than other families, with many ex-military carers having strong leadership skills that could help guide a vulnerable child or young person through the care system. In particular, many older children and teenagers in care could benefit massively within an armed forces family, as training and serving in the forces could be an ideal basis for being equipped to guide them through difficult life choices and preparing them for adulthood.
Ex-military carers may also find that fostering is a great way to continue to give back to their community, as it offers the opportunity to help and care for multiple children and young people, giving them the love and support they need to thrive. It is also a great way to establish roots in the local community, especially if ex-military carers are used to being deployed or stationed in different parts of the country.
We need ex-military carers now more than ever
In 2022, there were 82,000 children and young people in care, with the number of fostering applications dropping by over 2000. If more armed forces leavers became aware of fostering and how their skills are the perfect foundation for becoming a foster parent, we could slowly begin to see this number decline.
Sharon, one of our carers with experience in the armed forces, said she would definitely encourage other armed forces leavers to become foster carers. When talking about her journey, Sharon said that the most shocking thing was the number of children still looking for homes, saying: “Until you’re in the organisation, you don’t realise how many children there are that do need the help”.
Sharon has found that fostering has helped her to become more resilient, especially when moving children back with their families. However, she believes it is equally important to consider referrals and whether they are right for your family before making the decision to foster. As an ex-military carer, Sharon wanted to help every child she could, but it’s important to take your time during the process and evaluate clearly.
Foster carers are strong advocates for the children and young people they care for, constantly needing to be on their side and ensure that their voices are heard by authority figures. It’s not an easy task or one to be taken lightly, but it could be the perfect route for armed forces leavers to go down.
If you’re ex-military and feel like your skills would make you the perfect foster carer, please contact us to learn more about fostering. Our welcoming team of professionals will be happy to take you through any questions you may have.