An article posted in ‘The Warrant Officer’ has caused me to wonder if the manoeuvrist approach (an approach that many military veterans will be familiar with from their former professional lives) can be applied to any problems they encounter in transitioning to civilian life.
This article follows on from previous posts exploring the notion that some Service leavers experience reverse culture shock upon transitioning from military to civilian life (particularly if also dealing with additional trauma), and that an ingrained 'military' stigma acts against seeking help when needed.
In this article, the potential power of 'narrative' approaches to combatting this are explored, drawing on the work conducted in the Canadian context.
I have previously focused on some of the challenges that Service leavers face when leaving the armed forces.
But what is evident, both from my own experience, and by looking at this in more detail, is that a 'military' family is frequently right at the heart of this challenge, both in a supporting role—and perhaps more crucially—also potentially in need of support.
Aside from aspects looked at in my previous post, the nature of military life also requires that its people should be mentally and physically robust enough to operate in arduous, extreme and dangerous conditions (Finnegan et al., 2014). That, after all, is what a nation pays its armed forces to do.
However, given this requirement for physical and metal robustness, research concludes that when issues do arise—particularly around mental health—resolving them is often hampered through fear of recognising or being open about them.
In many respects, a career in the armed forces is unlike all other jobs.
Military work can occupy 24 hours a day and seven days a week, and it frequently involves working, sleeping and socialising with the same people, in a 'self-contained social world'.
With its ‘different ways of communicating and relating to others, different living arrangements, [...] and different standards of behaviour, dress, and bodily comportment’, it is often described as more of a 'life' than a job.
Just over a year after a diagnosis of cancer (and an associated reaction of 'adjustment disorder with mixed anxiety and depressed mood') the time came to hand back my Army uniform. This was kit I had worn day in and day out for almost 20 years, and it felt like relinquishing not just a uniform, but an identity.