As a volunteer Honorary Representative ‘Hon Rep’ for the OABF, I’ve seen first-hand a level of reluctance from retired Officers and their families to say that they need help and support from a service charity. Characteristic of some military roles is an innate self-reliance, which does not make asking for financial help feel natural. They may also feel that their service or Corps/Regimental Association is there for the serviceman or woman and not for Officers and their families.
My role as an OABF Hon Rep is to meet the former Officer and their family in their home, or over the telephone, talking on a one-to-one basis, without judgement, Officer to Officer, to better understand their situation and gather the information needed to provide the necessary support. Shared experiences and an understanding of military terminology all help to gain trust and build a positive relationship.
Each case is different. One of the cases I visited involved a retired Officer whose business partner had taken all the money from the business account leaving him with debts he was unaware of and as a consequence his life was dramatically affected. They had to sell their family home, cars and other possessions and moved into rented accommodation. Paying off all of the debts and solicitors’ bills took its toll. Sadly, he suffered a stroke. Their rented accommodation was totally unsuitable and they did not know where to turn to for help. The OABF provided vital grant support to ensure that the couple received the care, advice and support that they needed, helping to restore their dignity. On his death, an OABF Hon Rep continues to visit his widow, carrying out an annual review, offering advice and guidance and financial grant support if needed. As a service widow and with the continued support of the OABF, she is safe in the knowledge that the military system still cares for her.
None of us have any idea of what is around the corner in life. As an OABF Hon Rep, I feel that the work of the OABF continues the military ethos of care from Officers to Officers and their families.