The support needs of ex-Service personnel who have experienced trauma is the subject of an investigation published today (Thursday 11 February 2016) by Dr Jane Rowley, a Senior Research Fellow at Staffordshire University, and the first to be awarded Forces in Mind Trust’s Specialist Fellowship on the Clore Social Leadership Programme.

The report, entitled ‘What more can we do to support ex-Services personnel? An investigation into Post Traumatic Growth and the role of Expert Companions’, charts Dr Rowley’s findings from a personal learning perspective, as she explores several US and UK ‘trauma’ support system models, all of which have been tailored to the needs of ex-Service personnel and their families, and which are based on an existing framework known as Post Traumatic Growth (PTG).  PTG is a process which helps people make meaning of and cope with traumatic experiences by using their own language to express that experience and in their own way, use PTG techniques to turn that experience into an opportunity for personal growth.

At the core of Dr Rowley’s learning is an exploration of the ways in which this PTG process is being applied to help the ex-Service community, with a particular focus on the role of the ‘Expert Companion’.  Dr Rowley describes this role as “challenging” and one that requires a broad range of skills, such as:

  • listening with patience, and without passing judgment of giving advice, as people try to find their own words to describe some of the worst experiences imaginable
  • encouraging people to acknowledge that their reactions to traumatic experiences are not abnormal but rather normal responses to abnormal experiences
  • allowing the powerful experience of being heard to help repair the damage

The report is founded on literature reviews, field-based research and over a dozen interviews with individuals ranging from the Ministry of Defence, Clinical Practice and the Armed Forces charity support sector, to others who offer (and who have received) support following injury, trauma and transition difficulties in both the UK and US.  The subject matter also complements Dr Rowley’s experience as a social researcher and lecturer in addiction, and particularly her specialism in developing work that aids people who struggle to access social support networks or feel excluded from their communities. Dr Rowley is now on a three-month secondment with SSAFA – The Armed Forces Charity, focusing on building her PTG learning into the Families of the Wounded, Injured & Sick Personnel Support groups.

Dr Jane Rowley says: “My research shows that we can find and effectively use different methods to help those in transition move forward. We can support people to find new meaning in their lives after trauma and aid them to recognise that distress can co-exist with growth”.

Air Vice-Marshal Ray Lock, Chief Executive of Forces in Mind Trust, says: “Our first FiMT Fellow has delivered an insightful and thoughtful piece of investigative research on Post Traumatic Growth.  Drawing attention to the techniques used in the UK and US will benefit UK ex-Service personnel who have suffered traumatic experiences during their Service career, and the families who support them.   The connections Jane has made through her investigative research activities, and the potential for shared learning and improved services suggested by this report, are of value to both the military charity and wider social sector.”

To read and download the full report visit


Dr Jane Rowley and Ray Lock are available for interview.  To arrange, or if you need anything more, please contact Alex Goldup at The PR Office on / mobile:  07791 765 915/ direct dial: 020 7284 6941.


About the Forces in Mind Trust (FiMT):

  • FiMT came about from a partnership between the Big Lottery Fund (‘the Fund’), Cobseo (The Confederation of Service Charities) and other charities and organisations. FiMT continues the Fund’s long-standing legacy of support for veterans across the UK with an endowment of £35 million awarded in 2012.  Since 2004 the Fund has given more than £88 million to programmes supporting veterans.
  • The aim of the FiMT is to provide an evidence base which will influence and underpin policy making and service delivery in order to enable ex-Service personnel and their families to lead successful civilian lives.
  • FiMT awards grants (both reactive and proactive) and commissions research along three key themes: Evidence, Innovation and Collaboration.  All work is published to a high standard of reportage to add to the evidence base from which better informed decisions can be made.

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About Clore Social Leadership Programme

 The Clore Social Leadership Programme develops leaders with a social purpose so that they can transform their communities, organisations and the world around them.

The organisation helps make social change happen by supporting and investing in people – people who can become leaders with the resilience, self-awareness and capabilities to tackle the social challenges of the 21st century.

It was initiated by the Clore Duffield Foundation in 2007 with the aim of strengthening leadership across the third sector, and officially launched in 2009 later becoming a separate charity in 2010.