The differences when times get tough!

So my first full year out of the Army started terribly…

 My relationship of 5 years broke down when my Fiancé decided to leave me. I was devastated. If this wasn’t heartbreaking enough that I had lost my partner in life there was now the added pressure that I had also lost my financial partner too and I was one person on a mediocre wage with a lot of financial commitments. Life was suddenly very uncertain…

 There was no option of moving back into the block to cut my outgoings, I had a mortgage which I had to pay or I was going to lose my home. I had a large car that I couldn’t afford to run on my own and had various other outgoings that had to be paid. After the initial shock had passed and I simply had to get a grip of myself and my life! So I sat down and went over my finances with a fine tooth comb – something I thought I had done already to the n’th degree when I had left the Army. However, it’s amazing what you can cut down on when there is no alternative. I found a new mortgage deal, sold my big car and downsized to something more affordable, I changed my energy supplier, cancelled some non-essentials like my gym membership & changed where I shopped. In the space of a few weeks I had gone from not being able to afford my home and everything that came with it to my finances being fully in order with a little to spare for me. Easily the scariest and most sobering few weeks of my life…

 Another thing that I noticed about the breakdown of my relationship was that there was also no endless amount of people around me that were willing to support me and help me drowned my sorrows. Every break up I’ve had in the Military, the people who you live with rally round you for a bit and drag you out partying for a few weeks until you’re back on your feet or deeply immersed in some ridiculous rebound relationship!! I was on my own. Another thing was, with previous break ups whilst in the Army you kind of get a bit of leeway with stuff – people know you inside out, they know you intimately so they know you’re not at your best so cut you a bit of slack if you’re a hungover or a bit grumpy or not at the top of your game professionally. I didn’t want to run this gauntlet on Civvy St though as losing my job would only make things worse so stayed well off the booze and stayed relatively focused and was as professional as I could be given the circumstances. Don’t get me wrong, the people who I work with were fantastically supportive and my boss was amazing but when you leave your place of work to go home on a night, you are on your own – left with only your thoughts and as I stated in another post for someone who has suffered with mental health issues in the past or for anyone who is hurting that is not a good thing.

 So, in lieu of my Military colleagues around me on a night I decided I needed to do something to get me out of the house…something to keep me occupied on an evening. I chose to rejoin my old ladies football team and went training at the local 3G all weather pitch. The first training session was going so well. I was happy, laughing and joking with friends and then I fell over and heard the mother of all cracks from my shoulder. A first responder, an ambulance ride, a long wait in A&E, copious amounts of morphine later I was diagnosed with a Grade 3 fully separated acromioclavicular joint – In short I had smashed my shoulder to smithereens! I was told to expect to be off work for approx 6 weeks and then to possibly expect surgery after that! Another set of worries…Was I entitled to Company sick pay? If so how long was my sick pay entitlement? How do I apply for SSP if it my company sick pay runs out before I can get back to work? In the Forces you are so used to being paid unconditionally for however long you are off that but again this is very different on Civvy Street. I had never felt so much pressure to heal, there was no way I could live on the SSP! In the end it turned out I had a good period of company sick pay so when I returned to work after 5 weeks I hadn’t lost out financially, it was such a relief to get back to work, a real weight lifted from my mind.

 Now you may think that I am complaining about the last 4 months of my life – I’m not. In fact, it’s probably exactly the opposite…The last 4 months have shown me that being as heavily reliant on the Military machine as I was, wasnt a good thing. It has shown me that I am more than capable of sorting out my life even when going through the worst possible time and that with a bit of grit and determination and with the RIGHT support from family and friends you can literally get through anything. It has shown me that I have an inner strength that I never knew I had. It has also taught me that being fit and healthy is paramount and that I need to look after myself a little bit better…so unfortunately for Middleton Park Ladies FC, Im hanging up my boots in search of a less physical non-contact sport!

 So on reflection I initially thought that 2014 wasnt going to be the year for me but now I’m back on my feet financially, officially loved up with an amazing man, almost healed after my accident and now job searching for my perfect role as a stronger, happier & more accomplished person I think its the exact opposite – watch out world cos Lucy is coming to get you!!

Employment Fair – Wed 22nd May 2013

Whilst popping in and out of the Resources Library at the Resettlement Centre, Catterick I became friendly with the staff there and on one of my last visits before I left the Army I was informed  of the Employment Fair at the Race Course in York. 

Now, after my experiences at the Vetting Expo in Bristol I wasn’t sure whether I wanted to attend. All those men peacocking their skills and experiences, peddling their CVs and pushing to get to the exhibitors.  However, this time I had a friend to go with which made things a lot better!  Although I felt a little nervous when I got there me and my Resettlement buddy went for our free brew before hand, had a little catch up and had a little chat about what we both wanted from the day.

 The set up of the Event was excellent with some smaller exhibitors on the ground floor, Companies that were specifically recruiting ex-Military personnel on the first floor and the Training providers on the second.  What I found at this event (and I suspect happens at most events) is that when the doors open at 1000hrs there is a massive influx of people and the venue is packed out. However, the majority will come and go within a couple of hours and then in the afternoon the event will be very quiet.  This gives the people that arrive later or that are willing to hang around that bit longer the  quality time with the Company reps and training deliverers without the pushing, shoving and without feeling pressured because there’s 10 more people behind you waiting to talk to that Company.

 At this stage of my Resettlement I was already aware of a lot of the Companies and Training Providers and had already registered with them online, however, it doesn’t hurt to go and get your face seen.  Go up, introduce yourself, explain that you’re registered with their Company or that you’ve done a course with them – It just gives you more of a profile.

I eventually left the event at about 1330hrs and had only given my details and CV to one company, (they were the only new Company I had any interest in).  I did however, see a few old faces and got to say cheerio to all the Career Transition Partnership staff that’d been so helpful in my Career Transition Workshop (CTW) and many other trips to the Centre.  One thing that might be helpful is – If the Employment Fair is near your home town to be then this might be a good opportunity to track down your local Regular Forces Employment Agency (RFEA) Employment Consultant as they are available to you for help and advice for the rest of your life.


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