Loneliness and social isolation in the armed forces community

The Legion’s 2014 Household Survey of the ex-Service community found that 370,000 older veterans reported being lonely. Furthermore, over twice that number reported experiencing some relationship or isolation difficulty – equivalent to around 770,000 people. Despite these findings, research on loneliness and social isolation across the UK Armed Forces community remains scant.

The Legion’s new report – Loneliness and social isolation in the Armed Forces community – explores these issues across the community, consisting of Serving personnel, veterans and family members. It explores how members of the community experience these issues, what are the unique triggers for this community, and what barriers exist to seeking support.

Key Findings

  • 1 in 4 of survey respondents indicated that they feel lonely and socially isolated ‘Always’ or ‘Often’
  • Almost 70% agreed that loneliness and social isolation are issues in the Armed Forces community.
  • Moving to a new area was the most common cause of social isolation amongst survey respondents.
  • Exiting the Armed Forces was the most common cause of both loneliness and social isolation.

Findings from this research suggest that some elements of Forces lifestyle can increase vulnerability to loneliness and social isolation. These include:

  • Increased volume of transitions in the Forces.
  • A culture of self-reliance and avoidance of ‘weakness’.
  • Long periods of separation from partner and family.
  • Impact of injury and/or sudden discharge on career and family.

To read the findings in full, along with a number of policy recommendations, please download our full report and executive summary