Posted on April 3, 2019
Jeremy Vine is responsible for this blog. On his BBC Radio 2 show, a few days ago, he was discussing the issues people have when losing a job in later life. Some really, heart-rending stories about loss of confidence, mental health issues and subsequent substance abuse and even stories of homelessness. The common theme through it, and highlighted by one of the experts, was the sense of loss of identity.
The expert said how much we identify using work. If you think about it, one of the common openers in conversations with strangers is, “… and what do you do for a living?”. So, the upshot was how much we lose of ourselves when we are sacked or made redundant.
It got me to thinking about the transition process and the impact of the changes that we go through when leaving the military. Let’s face it, we do lots of different roles in our time in the Services as we promote, post or re-badge. However, when we leave the military, there is so much more about our service that we lose even if we have a job to go to.
Think about it!
The uniform and belonging; the Army even recruits using the “This is belonging” slogan. The uniform enforces the sense of being the same and being part of something special. While many leave and consider that the military has been put behind them, there is always a level of a return after a year or two, for the vast majority. It might not be the blazer and badge type of reconnection, but many do return on some level; breakfast clubs, associations, British Legion, etc.
There is the rank identity and the associated authority along with it. People, in the main, welcome the level playing field upon leaving the services and further, the release of the heavy responsibility of some of the military roles. However, civvy street soon brings the hard lesson of having to learn new ways of getting people to do what you need without simply asking them. After a while, this can cause frustrations and angst for ex-serving people and this can cause a sense of loss of authority which requires understanding.
There is the camaraderie; the connection with like-minded people is a very important part of the military ecosphere. Working closely alongside people and having their back while they have yours is inherent from the early days of basic training. This builds strong bonds that can last a lifetime. The personal connections built while serving transcend work into the social environment. We work, play, socialise and live together. The move to civvy street requires a mindset shift to understanding that, while you have work colleagues and a social circle, there is not the close, comprehensive community enjoyed in the services.
I am sure I could further expand on responsibility, adventure, history, traditions etc, but they all amount to the same thing, we all identified ourselves with the services and the vast majority of those veterans I speak to still do. It is a part of us, changes us fundamentally at the core.
So, it got me to thinking about the transition process and leaving that all behind, losing it all. How do WE cope? Many of us do, but some people struggle.
According to CTP 83% of us transition well finding employment, however, there is so much more that needs to be addressed to ensure a full transition and resettlement. Understanding the sense of loss and to some extent the loss of your identity is important; stepping forward and finding other ways to ensure your identity remains intact and ways to do this are to be part of the family, be you, be a veteran, be exforces; identify and self-identify in ways that make you feel good. Remember that your job is only a small part of the person you are.
If you are looking for any kind of Transition Support, then contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.