The military is often described as a 'self-contained social world'. It often implies a professional commitment far in excess of the traditional eight hours a day and five days a week, and usually involves toiling, sleeping and socialising with the same people – often in relative geographic isolation, during lengthy deployments, sometimes at short notice and habitually in extreme environments. 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.