Our Story

Our Mission

To help Service leavers and ex-Forces personnel find and remain in appropriate, rewarding employment for the rest of their working lives.

Our History

Founded in 1885, RFEA is one of the oldest service charities having supported Service leavers and ex-Forces personnel for over 130 years.


Historic Milestones

4th February 1885, The National Association for Employment of Reserve and Discharged Soldiers was founded. The Association emphasised the need to prepare Armed Forces personnel for civil employment while they were in service.

In 1935, the importance of the Association’s work was recognised by the Ministry of Labour who developed a scheme to secure the greatest amount of employment possible for ex-regulars.

In the 1930s the charity became known as the Regular Forces Employment Association, a title that was used until 1967.

By 1950 it was confirmed that the qualifying period to access support from the charity would be three years of regular service, and that members of the women’s services would qualify for registration under the same conditions as those for men.

In 1961, responsibility for resettlement affairs was placed with the education branches of the three services. The linking of these services with the Ministry of Labour, Association and the Officers’ Association into the Regular Forces Resettlement Service, saw these groups forge strong links.

In 1964, with 48 branches throughout the country, the Association received 14,716 registrations and placed 11,922 into jobs.

During the 1970s – 1980s reduced numbers of people leaving the Armed Forces led to a reduction in registrants to the charity and its services.

In 1992, following another period of reduced numbers in the Armed Forces, this time a consequence of the end of the Cold War, the recently formed Tri-Services Resettlement Organisation was given considerable powers to improve existing arrangements.

In 1995 the Association, now operating with 39 branches, was continuing to play a full part in finding employment for ex-regular servicemen and women, registering 12,241 and placing 4,903. In this year the Ministry of Defence (MoD) decided to put much of its resettlement responsibilities in the hands of commercial specialists. To comply with these new requirements, RFEA ceased to be an unincorporated association.

1st April 1997 RFEA became a company limited by guarantee. At the same time the Association remained a registered charity.

In 1997, Coutts Consulting Group (now renamed Right Management Ltd) was appointed by the MoD to deliver resettlement services to Service Leavers and RFEA was appointed as their sub-contractor to deliver job-finding services.

In April 2005 RFEA was again selected by Right Management as a sub-contractor for the Career transition Partnership (CTP) job-finding service. For this contract, RFEA partnered with the Officers’ Association under the Joint Employment Partnership. A formal 10 year sub-contract was signed with Right Management and took effect from 1 October 2005.

On 1st October 2015 the CTP contract was re-let to Right Management and RFEA continues to play a key and enduring role in supporting both Service leavers and ex-Forces to transition into rewarding, sustainable employment – for the rest of their working life.