Posted on January 29, 2018
Since being involved in the resettlement support game, around 20 years now, I have noticed a number of similarities in the transition process that I went through and others do. There are similar thought processes and emotions people experience, and in time share. Knowing about these feelings, and “outing” them, may help others to deal with them, as and when, and if they arise.
When I departed the Military many years ago, I was fortunate enough to leave with a job to go to. I moved into my new house, and revelled in the freedom of my new life: Not having to attend dinner at a particular time, not having to wear specific dress, not having to shave every day, not having to stand up when an officer walked into the room… I was able to sit in shorts and tee shirt to have my dinner in front of the TV, grab a beer from the fridge and relax, I was able to let a beard grow, let my hair grow, and then groom them again, as and when I felt like it… FREEDOM. I was glad to be out of the Army, and that part of my life, that “Chapter” was finished. It took me a good 18 months to 2 years to fully transition to my new state of being… but, something inside told me that I was not a civilian… But what am I?
I am ex-Military, and proud to say it. There is something that fundamentally changes us during our service, irrespective of the Service, Arm, Regiment or Corps. It makes the transition process a challenge, and people deal in different ways.
After I had gone through the process of not missing the Army, of being accepting of that part of my life being over, I started to recognise that I was different to the people around me. My thought processes were different, my desire for quality, my requirement for honesty and integrity, my need for people to keep to the times they promised were not being reflected by my new peers. Suddenly, despite my new-found friends being great people, despite me having a great social life, I felt alone: isolated, alone. I couldn’t figure why.
I was yearning for the Tribe.
Writing that, it feels strange, but still, so true. Nevertheless, I have outed it, and now, being in regular contact with ex-Forces and Serving and Transitioning people is an honour: a REAL honour.
I think that, during our Basic Training and then through our Service, we are fundamentally changed as people. Being of a certain ilk, we tend to enjoy and thrive in the company of those similar to ourselves. This is International too. I have a number of friends from different Armed Forces around the World with who I can connect, and engage in banter and camaraderie.
There are different ways to re-engage with your own kind but one that is enjoying growing success is the Armed Forces and Veterans Breakfast Club. www.afvbc.co.uk. Founded by Dereck Hardman, in 2007, there are so many charming and affirming stories that they share that serve to confirm beyond doubt that you are really “returning to the tribe”. Over and above the benefit they offer for the “Birds of a Feather” analogy, there are clear support benefits for those that have gone through the process outlined above. Pastoral support, but also an excellent network of contacts to tap into.
In conclusion, once you have left the Military, you will go through a process of departure, and leaving the past behind, and you WILL feel the calling of the Tribe and wish to return to the fold. Look at www.afvbc.co.uk, find your local Breakfast Club, and visit to start to feel the benefits of having your Forces Family around you.
Let us know of your experiences… comment below.