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Volunteers in the Danish Home Guard 2016
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Rapport

Volunteers in the Danish Home Guard 2016

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This report maps the composition of a group of volunteer members of the Home Guard, as well as their opinions and expectations of the Home Guard and their own voluntary efforts. The report is a follow-up to two previous surveys completed in 2007 and 2011 and it therefore also highlights changes from 2007 to 2011 and 2016.
Based on a questionnaire survey, the report paints a picture of who the volunteers are, what motivates them and how they perceive their surrounding environment’s view of them as members of the Home Guard. The report also focuses on the volunteers’ view of the Home Guard’s tasks and activities both in Denmark and abroad. Finally, the report describes the volunteers’ perception of the Home Guards’ communication and campaigns.
The report was commissioned and financed by the Danish Home Guard Command.

This report identifies the composition of the volunteer group in the Home Guard and their onions and expectations of the Home Guard, as well as of their own volunteer work. The report follows up on two previous surveys carried out in 2007 and 2011. We therefore also examine trends from 2007 to 2011 and on to 2016. The overall objective of the survey is to establish a better basis for the Danish Home Guard Command to organise its volunteer services.

This new survey was commissioned because of the major changes in Home Guard duties in recent years. The 2007 survey was conducted after the Home Guard had been reorganised from top to bottom following the 2000-2004 and the 2005-2009 Defence Agreements. Since the 2007 survey, new Defence Agreements, (2010-2014 and 2013-2017) have been implemented, involving a number of further streamlining and restructuring measures. Another part of the background to this report is that the Home Guard has seen a steady decline in membership over a number of years.

The Home Guard is a military organisation under the Ministry of Defence, consisting mainly of voluntary, unpaid members.  All Danish citizens above 18 years of age may apply for admission to the Home Guard. The requirement for Danish nationality can be disregarded in special cases.

The Home Guard is part of the Danish military defence and supports the Army, the Royal Danish Navy and the Royal Danish Air Force in a number of tasks. The Home Guard also supports Danish civilian authorities such as the Police, the Central Customs and Tax Administration (SKAT) and the Danish Emergency Management Agency. In recent years, the Home Guard has received a number of new duties, as Home Guard soldiers are now being deployed on international missions as support troops for the armed forces and to help train soldiers for deployment.

Home guard volunteers in figures

In June 2016, the Home Guard had 45,767 members, 15,275 of whom were active, while the rest were in the reserve. Members of the reserve participate for fewer than 24 hours per year in function-related Home Guard activities. The active force comprised 1,224 officers, 2,787 non-commissioned officers and 11,264 privates, broken down by the three branches of the Home Guard:  The Army Home Guard, the Naval Home Guard and the Air Force Home Guard. The Army Home Guard is by far the largest of the Home Guard branches: it consists of 35,658 volunteers, approximately 11,606 of whom are active.

The typical home guard soldier

Many of the members of the Home Guard have been members for a long time. On average, volunteers in 2016 have been members for 28 years compared with 23 years in 2007. There is a significant difference between the three Home Guard branches in terms of volunteers’ length of service. Air Force Home Guard volunteers have been members on average for 32 years, while Naval Home Guard volunteers have been members for 23 years on average.

Home Guard volunteers make up a broad cross-section of the Danish population, but there is a clear majority of men aged 40 and above. Women make up 14% of volunteers. Relatively speaking, the Air Force Home Guard has the greatest number of female members (22%).

The average age is 50, which is slightly higher than in 2007, when it was 47. The proportion of members below 30 is at the same level in 2016 as in 2007. The increase in average age is primarily due to the fact that members of the reserve were four years older on average in 2016 than they were in 2007. Considering only the active force, the average age has only increased slightly, from 45 years in 2007 to 46 years in 2016.

Furthermore, a relatively large number of Home Guard volunteers have a vocational education qualification. However, the proportion of volunteers with technical qualifications has actually gone down, while the proportion of members with short-cycle or medium-cycle higher education has increased since 2007.

Furthermore, Home Guard volunteers are relatively often employed in the private sector. Since 2007, the proportion of members of Home Guard in retirement or on early retirement has increased, and this is reflected in the higher percentage of members within the older age groups.

Around half of volunteers live in small urban areas or rural districts.

The typical Home Guard volunteer is therefore male, aged above 40, has a vocational education qualification, is employed in the private sector and lives in a rural district or in a small town. Since 2007, the proportion of members in the older age groups has increased, thus increasing the average age of volunteers. However, members below 30 make up the same share in 2016 as in 2007. 

Members are also active in other volunteer work

Home guard volunteers are far more involved in various forms of other volunteer work than Danes in general. As in 2007 and 2011, this survey shows that, in addition to volunteering for the Home Guard, many members also engage in other forms of volunteer work. As many as 55% of volunteers in the Home Guard are engaged in some form of other volunteer work alongside their activity in the Home Guard. By contrast, around 38% of the adult Danish population is engaged in volunteer work. As with the general population, Home Guard members primarily engage in volunteer work in sports and recreation. However, they are also relatively active as volunteers in healthcare, housing and the local community.

Reasons and motivations

As with other forms of volunteer work, Home Guard volunteers often join up because they are encouraged by others. Recruitment typically depends on social networks which mean that people are more likely to be encouraged to join up and to see that there is a need for their efforts. As in the previous surveys, volunteers most frequently state that they were encouraged by others to join the Home Guard.

Many Home Guard members have a network within the Home Guard. A total of 31% have family who are members, and 68% have friends in the Home Guard.

Home Guard volunteers can be divided into three groups based on their motivation for being a member of the Home Guard. The largest group is the traditionalists, who focus on the military responsibilities of the Home Guard. They are characterised by their motivation to defend Denmark. The group of traditionalists makes up almost half of active members in the Home Guard. The social and recreational volunteers are motivated in particular by the important societal tasks performed by the Home Guard, and by the opportunity for social interaction, personal development and skills development, as well as opportunities for an active leisure life. Almost one-third of active members fall into this category. The remainder falls into the category of super-motivated volunteers, who refer to both reasons mentioned above.

One-in-four members would like to spend more time on home guard activities

Active members spend an average of 21 hours a month in the Home Guard, while members of the reserve spend an average of less than half an hour a month. For the active force, this average increased by more than three hours a month from 2007 to 2016.

Most active members feel they spend an appropriate amount of time on the Home Guard. One-in-four, however, feel they spend too little time and would therefore like to spend more time in the Home Guard.

The majority of volunteers used to be more active. Almost everyone in the reserve says that they used to be more active, and 70% of active members also say that they used to be more active in the Home Guard. Therefore, it seems that the most active members, with high hours of service, compensate for the falling activity among the remaining active members. Volunteers who were previously more active state as the main reason for their lower activity today that they would rather spend time on other things than the Home Guard.

Half of all volunteers have never considered leaving the Home Guard. However, 43% of volunteers have sometimes considered leaving the Home Guard, while 8% have actually decided to leave. Since 2007, a growing percentage never considers leaving and a lower percentage sometimes consider leaving. Since 2007, the number of members who have decided to stop, or are considering stopping, due to health issues has gone up.

The home guard is respected, but there are certain prejudices about its members

A large proportion of volunteers experience that people respect the Home Guard as an institution, whereas many volunteers also experience that Home Guard volunteers are subject to many prejudices. However, only few volunteers have experienced that someone in their social circle has been against their membership of the Home Guard.

 Four-in-five volunteers believe that the perception of the Home Guard has improved in recent years, after Home Guard members have been deployed on international operations.

The home guard’s duties

Volunteers agree that the Home Guard has both military and civilian tasks and that both types of task are important. In terms of what they feel are the Home Guard’s most important duties, volunteers can be divided into three groups.

  1. Those focused on emergency response mainly emphasise that the Home Guard should contribute by providing assistance to the police, pollution abatement, traffic regulation, clearance assistance (dangerous fireworks) and heavy snowfall emergency services.
  2. Those who focus on the Naval Home Guard's duties of maritime search and rescue and maritime surveillance.
  3. Those focused on defence emphasise the military defence of Denmark and support for the training and exercises of the other armed forces, as well as support for Defence Command Denmark's international operations.

Four-in-five volunteers believe it is very important or important that the Home Guard is a voluntary military organisation.

Opinions about the structure and organisation of the Home Guard

Many volunteers in the Home Guard only have little knowledge about other parts of the Home Guard of which they are not a member. Two-in-three Home Guard volunteers believe that it is important or very important that the Home Guard keep its three separate Home Guard branches rather than merging these into a single Home Guard.

At least four-in-five Home Guard volunteers state that it is important or very important that the Home Guard have its own school/own education system, its own legislation (the Home Guard Act), its own management and its own materiel, and that it is responsible for its own finances.

Just over one-in-four Home Guard volunteers (27%) state that they would be less or much less motivated to volunteer if the Home Guard were to be merged with Defence Command Denmark or the Danish fire and rescue service. Around 43% state that their motivation would not be affected.

The majority of volunteers believe that up-to-date equipment and up-to-date materiel are important or very important for their willingness to volunteer for the Home Guard. 

Competences

Volunteers make use of the competences they possess from their civilian career in the Home Guard and vice versa. Up to half of volunteers state that they use their competences from their civilian career (educational background or work experience) to a greater or lesser extent in their Home Guard functions. Conversely, almost two-in-three volunteers with a civilian job say that they use their competences from the Home Guard to a greater or lesser extent in their civilian job functions.

One-in-six active privates are considering completing a leadership training programme to become a non-commissioned officer, while one-in-ten are considering completing such a programme to become an officer.

By far the majority of volunteers find that the requirements expected of them with regard to training and education, professionalism and knowledge in connection with their Home Guard function are fair.

Many would like to participate in international operations

Approximately 37% of active Home Guard members indicate that they would like to participate in the Home Guard’s international operations and that they would like to be deployed internationally in this context, and 33% would like to take part in an international stabilisation operation.

This willingness to be deployed depends on age as well as other factors. Young volunteers, in particular, would like to participate: Two-in-three of 18-29-year-old members of the active force would like to be deployed in Defence Command Denmark's international operations and slightly more than half would like to be deployed in an international stabilisation operation. Furthermore, volunteers who would like to participate in one of the two types of international operations are mostly officers, male and live alone. Finally, volunteers who do not have children, volunteers with vocational education qualifications and volunteers who are not in a job are also among volunteers who would like to participate in stabilisation operations.

Satisfaction and recognition

Volunteers are overall satisfied with the training they have received in the Home Guard; with their influence on their own tasks; with their possibilities for continued development in the Home Guard; with their immediate superiors; with the materiel; and with social life in the Home Guard.

By far the majority (83%) also state that they are overall satisfied or very satisfied with being a volunteer in the Home Guard.

By far the majority (87%) feel that their effort, to a high degree or to some degree, is being appreciated in their subdivision. However, active members feel much more appreciated than volunteers in the reserve.

Both the percentage of volunteers that feel they are highly appreciated and the percentage that feel they are poorly appreciated have gone up since 2011. The latter figure may relate to the fact that the percentage of Home Guard volunteers in the reserve has increased over the same period.

Information

By far the majority of Home Guard members feel that they receive an appropriate amount of information from the Home Guard. A total of 10% of volunteers feel that they lack information about the Home Guard. This includes general information when the Home Guard appears in the media and information about the status of current Home Guard initiatives in society.

Both active members and members of the reserve read the Home Guard Magazine, although there is a large difference between active and reserve members with regard to almost every other source of information about the Home Guard.

Almost everyone in the active force use the Home Guard website (www.hjv.dk) often or sometimes, and just short of half state that they receive information from the official Home Guard Facebook page.

Nearly every active member has access to the internet and uses e-mail. However, 12% of members of the reserve do not have access to the internet, and 19% do not use e-mail.

Summary

Compared with previous surveys, with regard to the composition of Home Guard volunteers, the survey reveals an increase in the average age of volunteers. The average age of volunteers has increased the most for volunteers in the reserve; however the average age of volunteers in the active force has also gone up. This is because the percentage of members within the older age groups has increased. Many volunteers have many years of service in the Home Guard. However, the survey also reveals an increase in new young members, and that members below 30 make up the same share in 2016 as in 2007.

Furthermore, the survey shows that many active members used to be more active in the Home Guard, and an increasing percentage of active members state health problems as the reason for their lower level of activity. On the other hand, many of the most active members are far more active today than previously. Active members on average spent more than three hours more a month on Home Guard activities in 2016 than in 2007.

As in the previous surveys, this demonstrates huge backing for the Home Guard from volunteers. By far the majority of volunteers say that they are generally satisfied with being a volunteer in the Home Guard, and volunteers in the active force, in particular, say that they feel their contribution is appreciated within the subdivision.

That since 2007 fewer Home Guard members are considering leaving the Home Guard also illustrates the good backing for the Home Guard. Among volunteers who are considering leaving, more state health problems as the cause.

Since 2008, the Home Guard has provided support for Defence Command Denmark's international operations in Afghanistan, Kosovo, Kuwait and Iraq, and in 2016, the Home Guard participated in Danish international collaboration with a number of countries. Home Guard members generally express their support for Home Guard participation in international operations. Approximately one-third of active Home Guard members indicate that they would like to participate in the Home Guard’s international operations and that they would like to be deployed internationally in this context. Many younger members, in particular, would like to be deployed. 

The majority of members consider it important that the Home Guard is a voluntary military organisation. The majority of volunteers also consider it important that the Home Guard is divided into three Home Guard branches. Therefore, they are not calling for changes to the way the Home Guard is organised.

 

Forfattere Torben Fridberg, SFI
Mona Larsen, SFI
Udgivelsesdato 24.03.2017
Udgiver SFI - Det Nationale Forskningscenter for Velfærd
Sprog Engelsk
ISSN 1396-1810
ISBN 978-87-7119-436-4
E-ISBN 978-87-7119-437-4
Sidetal 162
Publikationsnr. 17:10
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Torben Fridberg

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DIREKTE 33 48 08 47 E-MAIL tf@vive.dk
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