Life After War

The three of us left the British Army in 2018, with a combined service of 33 years. We shared the common purpose; to serve our country and fulfil a 22-year career.  We enlisted at a time when the global war on terror was not yet at its peak, finding ourselves in multiple overseas deployments to both Iraq and Afghanistan. As most Servicemen/women will agree, it’s a time of your life you will never forget, for both the good and bad reasons.

During our time on tour, we were immersed in routine and structure. Life was simple and at times boring, yearning for the next contact with the enemy. The thought of death or being injured is a peripheral issue that only emerges when you step off the plane. You become superhuman when engaged in battle, but there is an emotional detachment that comes with it that is hard to shift when you return to normal life.

The personal battles really begin when military life ends. It’s as though you’ve lost something that was incredibly precious to you - a purpose and identity that gives you a sense of warrior-like status. We all felt this and found ourselves chasing the next adrenaline rush, like a drug that gave the greatest high but the worst come down.

As the drawdown of deployments end, there eventually comes a time when you have to say ‘enough is enough, I need a new challenge’. No sooner do you think this, the daunting prospect of Civvy Street starts to clip at your heels, the way the idiot in school does when you’re running across the school yard. It’s a frightening prospect. You have 2 options - either prepare for the fall or graze your knees.

We all had our own questions we had to find the answers to while transitioning. The complete loss of identity was the hardest thing to accept, along with trying to find a place for the values we were issued with and lived by since day one of training. How would they fit in to my new role? Wearing a uniform that identifies you as something unique to civilians no longer matters, and the safety net that was once there is handed back in with your I.D. card. 

The transition begins, each of us trying to find our new war and purpose.  As veterans we found ourselves working together for a common purpose to try to make the world a better place and find a home for those values that we held dear in the army. The company we joined help people with disabilities at work.  We each came with our own baggage and issues in terms of what we had done in service.  Our new employer recognised our potential, helped us identify the areas we would struggle adjusting to and gave us new weapons for us to succeed in our new ‘theatre of war’.

None of it was easy, and we knew that if we were feeling it, others must be too. However, having an employer who understands and can guide you through the potential pitfalls is sometimes all it takes to turn things around.

We knew there had to be a solution. So, we drew from our own experiences during the daunting exposure to civilian life and knew we could use them to help fellow service leavers. We know what it takes to overcome the issues that present themselves on the other side of the fence. We know because we have lived it, and we also know that we can do something to help, to provide others with a pathway to success after the military.

After months of research, development and a lot of hours spent with our employer explaining the issues, reflecting on transition and our own mental health conditions from service, Fighting Minds was born. 

Fighting Minds was created to directly help Veterans with disabilities and mental health conditions in the workplace. We are a unique blend of Psychologists and ex service personnel/Veterans who identify that those values we hold dear have a place in civilian life and should be held as pillars of society.

It is a place for veterans to come when struggling with the transition into civilian life; the antidote to the overwhelming confusion and isolation that arises when you don’t know who to talk to or where to look for help.

We found our new brotherhood, not to replace but to sit alongside the previous one that still means so much. We now have our new fight for social justice and have realised something… we’re never out of the fight.

We can help you to find your route to success after the military. Contact Fighting Minds today and remember…you can still be a warrior in Civvy Street.

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