Posted on December 11, 2018
Over the past few weeks, I have been feeling a really strong sense of community. Today, I witnessed the power of the community coming together to look after one of our own.
In the 20 years I have been supporting people in transition from the military to civilian life, I have heard on many occasions the sentiments around going from a culture of belonging to a free-for-all existence where you can never be really sure who has got your back and who is stabbing it! A sense of not being “understood”, the disconnect on language and terminology, the feeling of not really “belonging”.
I have also noticed that people leaving the military have a real inclination to leave behind that part of their lives and look to move on. The time of departing the military brings about a mix of emotions between excitement and anxiety, fear and trepidation, experience and naivety; a real concoction.
It strikes me that anywhere between 2 and 5 years post service, people feel the need to reconnect with the veteran community, to re-engage in the brotherhood of those who have served. The trite saying that “Birds of a feather flock together” has a real resonance for me when looking at the Military community with whom I am working.
Today, one of our Forces4Change partner organisations reached out to me with news of a serving soldier who had tried to do the unthinkable. They asked that someone from the veteran community be put in touch to support them. Within an hour, I had three people that would be local and available to support our brother in his time of need, and further, better equipped, as they have the experience of serving and the broader experience of civilian life and hardship. They can contact the person in crisis and talk to them outside of his current chain of command, talk in the same language, sign post, support and provide hope. Astounding and I am proud to have been involved.
What I am wondering is: How does it take so long for us to move from a close, mutually supporting culture into one that is very chaotic and then take two plus years to reconnect? Can we provide a smoother transition by developing a more considered approach to the resettlement process by creating a regionalised landing community for our veterans with advice and support and engagement?
Could we really create a situation where someone is “posted” to “Civ Div” and get the level of support and social integration that they expect when they move units?
I suspect… no, believe, that we can.