When I left the Army in January 2012, it wasn’t just a change of job. My whole world changed. I was a civilian for the first time in a long time.
The Army isn’t just a job; it is a culture, it is a lifestyle, it is your life.
Say goodbye to the normal aspects of life and say hello to restrictions and new rules that you abide by. Put simply, you get told what to do, when to do it, how to do it and not to ask questions.
Don’t get me wrong, if I had my time over again I would still sign that piece of paper and put on that uniform that still hangs in my wardrobe.
On a daily basis I miss my mates, I miss putting on my uniform and lacing up my boots. I miss being a Soldier. And with tomorrow being Anzac Day I miss putting on my medals, drinking and sharing a warrie or two with my mates.
But I don’t miss the bureaucracy that plagues the ADF. I’m not going to rant for pages about what I think the many issues are and how to fix them; I’ll leave it at one for this post. The ADF does not care about the individual.
It’s quite simple, and I think you would be hard pressed to find any serviceman or servicewoman that disagrees. At some-point somewhere in their career they have been pushed aside, given a very raw deal and told its for service reasons.
I left the Army when I knew I was only a number on a spreadsheet. Qualifications and experience meant nothing when my number was matched to a role I had zero interest in and had explicitly expressed never wanting for a number of years. My fate was sealed before I even got my posting order.
I owe a great debt to the ADF and in particular the Royal Australian Navy for recognizing my anxiety and depression when others dismissed and ridiculed. I spent a very long time learning that what I was experiencing was in fact a somewhat common reaction to my circumstances and not to be swept under the rug.
I had a lot of my issues under control for a decent amount of time with a few acute episodes flaring up in late 2011 when I was fighting my posting order. Only when I accepted that the best option for personal, career and mental health progression was to take off the uniform did my anxiety and bouts of depression subside.
I would never want to forget my years in the Army and the times I served my Nation overseas. But I am happy with my decision to take off the uniform and start a new chapter in my life.