34-year-old veteran Sam McGeachie was medically discharged at the end of 2020 after serving in the Royal Army Medical Corps since 2009. When it came to planning for life after Service, housing was her main concern.
“As soon as I found out I was leaving, I started thinking about where I was going to stay and it was definitely my main stress. It wasn’t an option for me to stay with family, and I also had Keria, my companion dog to consider. A lot of rentals won’t allow pets so I was worried about finding somewhere that we both could stay. I suffer from complex PTSD and so it was really important that I found somewhere I felt safe and secure. But it was my first home outside the Army and I didn’t know where to start.
“When you’ve spent all of your adult life in the Army, your accommodation is taken care of for you and you don’t have to think about it. All of a sudden it becomes your responsibility but you don’t know what’s out there, where to go for help, or who there is to turn to.
“My Personnel Recovery Officer (PRO) recommended I get in touch with Housing Options Scotland, who then put me in touch with Veterans Housing Scotland. I was put on the waiting list for one of six flats that were being built specially for veterans at a new development in East Lothian, and fortunately I was successful in getting one. I’ve settled in really well here with Keria – my flat is spacious and I feel safe here.
“I know a lot of people have to wait much longer to find a home after leaving, so I do feel really fortunate to have got somewhere sorted so quickly. Not having to worry about housing has allowed me to move forward with my life, and I’m looking forward to starting university and training to be a paramedic later in the year.
“I think that giving leavers a proper pack with all of the information that they might need in one place, in a way that is easier to understand, would be a really good way to help more people leaving the military know what their options are. There’s a lot of support out there but it can still be hard to know which organisation to approach first and for which type of help. I don’t know what I would have done without the help I received, so it’s really important that those who need it are able to access it.”