Whilst the army has improved their resettlement procedures over the years, leaving the army is a massive step to take and many ex-squaddies struggle to adapt to life on the outside. Here’s a brief look at how a soldier can transition to normal life and be a success.
I left the British Army 5 years ago and there have been many highs and lows. I had about 25 different jobs and quickly fell into debt after making silly choices. I have sorted my life out now and I am very happy so I thought I would write some advice, with a little insight from my own experiences, for any of the guys or girls that were in the process of leaving or have recently left the forces.
- Get a job
So you joined the army at 16, went through training and got to your infantry unit. In between tours of Afghan you got rather drunk every weekend and generally had a very good time. Well that’s kind of how it went for me, but that doesn’t really make for good reading on a CV. I wanted to go into an office job and the first thing I needed was to create a good CV. I didn’t really have great grades or qualifications to speak of, so I created a CV that was based around work ethic, teamwork, reliability and discipline. These are traits that are automatically associated with the army and emphasizing these on your CV will stand you in better stead when an employer reviews CV’s.
Try using the following power words:
- Proven track record of navigating difficult scenarios and situations
- Ability to assimilate large amounts of information and make quick, informed decisions
- Disciplined, ambitious and target driven
For interview tips you can read my post: How to nail a job interview
You have an entire year to learn a new trade and prepare yourself for the outside world. During that year, you should decide on a career path and learn as much as you can whilst saving as much money as physically possible; I just got drunk and thought that everything would work itself out. It did, but it took some real tough times to get there.
Great links to apply for jobs:
- Save money
The army does not teach you how to look after money. In the army, you can spend your entire month’s wages on payday-weekend and it doesn’t really matter, because you still have a roof over your head and 3 meals a day. I really struggled in this department and made some stupid decisions because, simply because I was totally inexperienced with saving, paying bills and budgeting.
Don’t end up like Ian Beale:
- Don’t get payday loans – they may sound reasonable but they really screw you up in the end.
- Look at how much money you will take home from you job and budget for what you will need.
- Start saving money – you never know what is around the corner.
Top Tip: Check http://www.moneysavingexpert.com/
- Nights out
The simple thing to remember here is that the rules are different in Civvy Street. Screaming ‘naked bar’ and ripping all your clothes off in the middle of a pub is likely to get you thrown out or worse. Don’t get so wasted that you are a danger to others and yourself; your civvy mates are more likely to leave you than carry you home. Shaving your mates eyebrows off on a regular basis after they fall asleep is going to get you in trouble and you will lose friends very quickly. Go to the pub, enjoy yourself and tell the lads your war stories, but don’t be an arse and annoy people. You basically have to come down a few notches in craziness.
Very few civvies know what buck-she means. The lingo you use will change over time and you should start to talk a little more appropriately. You can’t call someone a c*** or a f****** w***** during a meeting, even if you mean it in a really nice way. Similarly, leave the Brecon point in Brecon.
- The lads, the banter, the memories
Things change when you leave the forces and it takes an adaptable individual to be a success on the outside. Remember your manners; you don’t have to eat at 100mph anymore and bringing your corned-beef-hash ration pack on a night out will get you more than a few funny looks. You will certainly miss the boys you served with and you should always try your best to keep in touch, even though they might be spread around the world. I regret losing touch with many of my former army mates, but when I do see them again, it’s like nothing changed.
Whilst it sounds like you can’t have any fun on Civvy Street, you can still enjoy yourself in a responsible way. It is sometimes the simple things that make you incredibly happy; I remember the first time I could book my own holiday and it was a great feeling. Whilst you might miss the boys and the banter, you now have the freedom to do what you want and go where you want. I moved to Prague in the Czech Republic after a few years of getting out and I have not looked back since then.
Because you have served in the British forces, you should have the skills, discipline and work ethic to be a success on the outside. It won’t be easy, that I can guarantee, and it will be a shock to the system but things will get better.
And if you really miss the military, there is always the TA.
Had your own experiences when leaving the forces?
Let me know in the comments below – a like on my Facebook page would be appreciated!.