When British soldiers leave the Armed Forces, they are entitled to Enhanced Learning Credits which help fund retraining courses prior to transitioning from soldier to civilian, but are there companies exploiting veterans for this funding?
Last week I had a very interesting and controversial conversation with an anonymous veteran who shall remain unnamed.
The anonymous veteran is passionately intent on raising awareness for soldiers leaving the Armed Forces who are wishing to spend their Enhanced Learning Credits (ELC’s) on particular courses to enter the Close Protection (CP) Circuit.
This veteran who wishes to remain anonymous for security reasons has worked on the Close Protection Circuit for the last seven years following his nine-year Army career.
This is his personal opinion of the Close Protection Industry based on his experience.
“I’m in the sort of world now where it needs a lot of clarification. I see a lot of people tripping up and falling over, so I felt like I needed to share an insight to prevent veterans from making silly choices based on ill-informed decisions which in turn, lead to them being seen off for their resettlement money”.
“I left the Army in 2010 and I’ve been lucky to work on the Close Protection Circuit ever since. I hear and see a lot of things within the circuit and I see what certain training providers do”.
“Because of my concerns, I approached a careers transition organisation and offered them a free service to pop in and chat to the veterans who were looking to spend their Enhanced Learning Credits on CP courses. They f**cked me off at the high port and were far from interested”.
“I completed nine years in the Army and I wasn’t in anything special. I served in a conventional front line unit and when I left in 2010, I was very lucky to build a report with someone in the HR department of a CP company and that was my foot in the door”.
“I feel that people have a huge misconception of the Close Protection circuit”.
“Years ago, back in 2000 to 2002, you’d be able to earn a thousand dollars a day with no dramas. You wouldn’t really need to pass any enduring courses to get the job but them days are now over and the industry is a lot more legislated. With all the legislation, it discounts people and there are a lot of people who don’t meet certain prerequisites”.
“This is what people don’t want to hear”.
“If you are not from a front line unit or if you don’t possess relevant operational experience, the likelihood of you achieving an employment role within the circuit is slim to none. Whatever your trade is in the Armed Forces is fine but there are not many requirements for a logistic corps storeman on the circuit”.
“In regards to prerequisites, they may not be interested in employing a twelve-year private. I left the Forces as a Lance Corporal and people still tell me that I don’t meet the prerequisites even with my time already served in the circuit. Close Protection employers tend to look for former Junior NCO’s (Non-Commissioned Officers) as a minimum”.
“It seems like certain employers in this industry take your time served into account, so they are looking for people who have served five to six years minimum. This is only to get a look in the door”
“Criminal Record Bureau (CRB), well, we’ve all been pissed up haven’t we?
“We’ve all experienced full on fighting withdrawals through Salisbury High Street. If you have massive issues on your CRB, you won’t get a look in. Rather than spending thousands upon thousands of pounds on security clearances, they’ll get you to spend thirty pounds on a bog standard criminal records disclosure. If there is anything on that disclosure which they do not like, violent conduct especially or drink driving, they will get rid of you. You won’t have a chance, not a hope in hell”.
“Just because veterans have been in the uniform doesn’t mean they are a decent person on the outside”.
“A lot of guys tend to say, ‘well my mate Dave can get me a job in the circuit’ and unfortunately when we leave the military, a lot of the ethos disappears. I have fallen foul to this quite a lot”.
“The costs incurred in this job are astronomical”.
“When I got out, I was used to going to the storeman and saying ‘I need this, I need that‘, but in the Close Protection Circuit it is required that you purchase your own body armour and helmet, kit and equipment. You’re looking to spend in the region of two to three grand to get yourself set up”.
“Bare in mind, this can all get lost at the airport”.
“The Tax Man will smash you”
“If you go out and earn eighty grand and then spend four seconds longer than you should do in the UK, you’ll be taxed on that entire eighty thousand pounds”.
“There is an illusion that you go away and earn all of this money, come back to the UK whenever you feel like it because it’s our home, right? This is not the case, you have got to keep working away in order to keep that money tax-free. I know guys who are too afraid to return home because they owe large amounts of tax”.
“I’ve worked for the US Department of Defence (DOD) and I was very lucky to come under their insurance policies and medical cover”.
“There are companies out there who will deploy you to areas in the world on four hundred dollars a day with no insurance policies. Some of us thrive in those hostile environments because we love soldiering but there is no big green telephone, you’re out there and that’s it. You have to make it work without that military support chain”.
“Some people don’t understand that. Most people believe you will be deployed to some middle eastern country where they will put you up in a seven-star hotel with waiter service and a Gucci M4 rifle. Those gigs do still exist but the boys from Hereford and Poole are chilling out on them and rightly so”.
“You could lose a leg or an arm, I know a few guys who have sadly been killed on the Close Protection Circuit and it’s tough s**t. Your family will get a quick pay out and your body will be left in a ditch somewhere because we are expendable. There is no Headley Court in the Close Protection World”.
“Service leavers are under the impression that they are joining something which is the military but outside of the military. In some aspects it is and in others, it’s not”.
“There are jobs being offered in Iraq right now for two-hundred and forty dollars a day which is one hundred and eighty pounds. You’re still going to be driving up and down the same roads with the same risks”.
“I understand people have bills to pay and families to feed and I respect those who are on this gig. We have to do what we have to do but in comparison, I know a lad working on building sites pushing wheel barrows for one hundred and twenty pounds a day”.
“The industry has changed, it’s all about money now. The small companies have maintained their standards and they still pay well but the bigger companies have converted to hybrid teams. So you’ll have a couple British on the team and the rest of the team will be a couple Iraqi or Afghan guys”.
“So if veterans think they are going to be joining a fifteen man team with Chuck Norris, it’s just not happening”.
“I get it, it’s a lucrative industry”
“Companies and training providers are making money out of training service leavers, that’s not the issue, morally, they’re not cutting it”.
“Guys who are entitled to their resettlement bonuses (Enhanced Learning Credits) as far as I am concerned, have worked hard for those entitlements and that funding is a one-off opportunity. These companies are well aware of these points I have raised and yet they still continue to take this money from our veterans”.
“For example, Private Jones from the Royal Logistics Corps (RLC) wanted to join the RLC and that’s fine, I have nothing against Private Jones. However, Private Jones is a female in a non-combat role with four years under her belt and one operational tour. She has got no f**king chance of finding employment in the Close Protection Circuit. That’s not sexist, that’s because she would not be seen as equal in such countries like Iraq and Afghanistan. Having said this, I actually know of females working in Afghan who was on diplomatic gigs that were told about the being female issue. So they were there but very limited”.
“There are decent female operatives out there, but the harsh realities are that females would not be treated equally in middle-eastern cultures. Nonetheless, these training providers will still take Private Jones’s funding”
“Certain individuals within these training companies know the facts and they know that these veterans don’t stand a chance with working on the circuit but they still take their money”.
“I just feel that these training companies should morally inform the veterans that they may not find employment even after completing the course because of these points. If that veteran then decides to attend the course and part with that funding, then the training providers have done their part as far as I am concerned. But they’re not doing that”.
“Yeah, come on in, do our course, cut around for a week in a Rab jacket and spin shit stories with the SF (Special Forces) boys and then we’ll take your money and f**k you off at the end of it”.
“I can’t help but feel that if veterans had a slightly clearer understanding of this industry they may consider all options when leaving the Armed Forces”.
“When I was working for the DOD, I had the backing of the full US military behind me but not everyone has that”.
“So when we’re in these countries, we are guests of those nations. When you f**k up in those nations, they will come for you. You’ll end up in an Afghan prison and all these companies and organisations will drop you because they don’t want you to complicate things for them. There are a large number of former British operators currently in prisons throughout India and previously Afghan, all to be forgotten about”.
“There is no back up for you and soldiers leaving the armed forces just don’t know that”.
“When you apply for a loan from the banks they need to make sure they are responsible lenders by ensuring that you’re not going to f**k that money up the wall. I think the military should have a duty of care over these service leavers who want to spend their ELC’s on courses”.
In my opinion, there is a huge error somewhere in allowing these training providers to recognise Enhanced Learning Credits, there should be a tighter vetting process when allowing these companies to process the ELCs.
“There is a good life to be had on the Close Protection Circuit but I feel that veterans are not very well-informed about the circuit and they are making shocking decisions”.
“I know lads who are currently cutting around Basra oil fields with two magazines for an AK-47 and a broken foresight blade and being told for ‘f**k sake, don’t shoot anybody because if you do, you’ll end up in prison‘. This risk is all for one hundred and forty bucks a day”.
“Is that where I want to see any veteran who has worn the same uniform as me? Is it f**k, I don’t want to see anyone in prison when they could have had a little prior knowledge before committing to the circuit”.
“I’d like to think I have kept some of my values with me and I like to look out for veterans. I just want the right people to hear it and I want it to come across in a way that is constructive”.
I would like to add that this problem is not only within the Close Protection world, there are companies throughout the resettlement program that are exploiting veterans for their Enhanced Learning Credits across different industries of work.
We are keen to hear from other veteran’s experiences of this industry in order to gain a clear understanding of what the industry is really like.
Thank you for taking the time to read this week’s blog, I hope you have found this insightful.
Jamie and featured Anonymous Veteran