Updated: Apr 20
To all #veterans and #serviceleavers, FIND YOUR THING. When you leave the military, you leave an all-encompassing way of life. In a lot of ways, that is a bonus, but you may also find that there are a lot of gaps in your life where a mess function, a regimental sport, a duty, an exercise or some other green/blue/light blue activity would have taken place. When we leave, we tend to fill those gaps with the only thing that becomes important in professional civvy life, our raison d'etre, our work. You want to succeed, you want to be the best at your job and you want to play catch-up with your civvy counterparts, because you've "missed out" on their qualifications and experience in civvy life. While you were on Herrick, at sea or holed up in some horrendous 4-star hotel next to an airfield 😉, they were out gaining valuable commercial experience and getting to grips with profit and loss.
Don't think you are in anyway disadvantaged by your service, don't convince yourself it will take years to catch up, it won't. Don't flog your guts out when all around you are cruising along. Pace yourself and find other outlets to fill the gaps.
When I left, I knew I was joining the Reserves straight away. I took the ribbing and the obvious jabs and I stuck to my guns. I have progressed in the Army Reserves into a capbadge in which I am put to use in a smart and professional manner and I definitely add value and feel valued. I get to put the green kit on when I choose to and it is fully understood that this is no longer my main effort. I'll always give my 100% when I'm there, but I have to be able to switch off to an extent when the kit gets stuffed back in the bottom drawer (or neatly hung back in the wardrobe). This has enabled me to maintain a great relationship with my past life. I also give back by volunteering in the courts. I can highly recommend this as an opportunity to utilise some of the soft skills that were skillfully imbibed in us over the years, often without us noticing (nod to the #ets). It is a duty to society that someone has to do, and it is perfect for ex-forces. You may choose to manage a youth football team, become a school governor, volunteer for a charity, run the Scouts, whatever it is, find something that is a dutiful outlet. It will turbo-boost you and your esteem.
All of this, I believe has helped me make a fairly smooth transition from the green kit that I loved so well, to a (hopefully) productive member of society in which I still feel valued and involved.
Please all, pay attention all aspects of your life after you leave, work won't go anywhere!