First of all, I would like everyone to know that we all have different stories, a different perspective and different experiences; and it’s OK. That’s what makes us who we are.
Today, I am sharing my experience with my transition in to the civilian world. To me this is really scary, but doable (like for every one of us). The military is not everything for anymore.
A little of my background: I have a 15 months old daughter and an amazing partner that is also in the military. I say this because all I know since the age of 20 is the military. I wear green every day, which means I don’t have to look for something to wear except on the weekends that I don't work. My past 11 years has been all about the military. For some it could seem like a short time, but to me, it’s almost half my life. I was planning on doing a full 20 years. When I found out approximately 6 months ago that my career was ending, I saw my life with nothing left in it. That after the military, I had nothing. True /false I don't know, but I can tell you what I did.
I continued my therapy every week and started talking about my goals. I also subscribed for the scan seminar which help me tremendously finding resources and not feeling alone. Don't get me wrong, finding all the resources is sometimes hard and it wasn't easy for me. I used my Case Manager a lot. I also wrote a memo to get posted to JPSU. I wanted to concentrate on what will be coming next. I wanted to get away from the military environment to help myself realize that there is a life after the military. With the help of my doctor and therapist, I made a list of what I could do after my release. We made list of what I had and what I would need (like a health card).
At this time, I do not have support from Veterans Affairs Canada which makes it a bit harder, but it’s in process they say.... In the end of November, I got posted to JPSU which was the best move I could have made. A door opened for me. I was able to qualify for the VRPSM program with Manulife. I had to pick a course and I was able to start 6 months prior to my release from the Canadian Armed Forces. This meant I didn't have to be on base every day, but still felt like a soldier while I was slowly making my transition in the civilian world. The day of my approval on that program, I felt relieved. My anxiety reduced by half. Some triggers that I didn't even know about were gone. I didn't have to live in fear of going on base every day. Don’t get me wrong, every day is still a struggle. But I am now facing it little by little, one day at the time.
Last Friday was a big day for me. It was the day I was bringing back my uniform before starting school. A day that I never thought would come. I was scared and ashamed. I was scared of what people would say or ask me when I would get to Clothing. I was worried I was forgetting something. I was hoping it was just a dream and that my career wasn't over. I cried and was angry at the world. I was wondering why me. Then I looked back, and told myself that I gave my all. No, I didn't serve overseas and there are still a millions of things that I would have loved to accomplish, but the decision wasn’t up to me. It wasn't my fault and, no matter what, I am still a Veteran. I served like everyone else. It’s just time for me to look for something better. Something that would make me learn and grow. I don't have to survive anymore. I finally have a chance to live. I tell myself every day that something better is waiting for me. It is hard, but I am doing it.
July 2005 is the month I signed at the bottom of the dotted line and started serving my country as a Canadian soldier in the CAF. I did my Basic Training in Saint-Jean, Québec. As a strong and stubborn soldier, I had no fear and was ready to give my all. On October 2005, I was posted in Borden. In 2006, I was sent to do my Soldier Qualification. In 2007, I completed my cook Ql3 course, and then got posted to Edmonton Alberta. As a starting soldier, I rented an apartment in Edmonton with my wife at the time. Everything was perfect until... 2008. My wife and I ended our relationship. The financial burden forced me to move into the barracks, on base. The year 2008 marked my life as well as my military career: it was the year that I got sexually assaulted in the barracks. Like most of us know, PTSD from sexual trauma changes a person in ways that cannot be controlled. I was no exception. I was sent to Québec on a contingency posting to be around my support system, and posted to Montreal in 2010. I remaster as a Vehicle Technician, and started one on one EMDR therapy with a Social Worker. I refused to release from the Forces. I was ashamed and hurt. No one was going to take my career away. In 2012, I completed my Ql3 Vehicle Technician course. I then got posted to Gagetown (New-Brunswick) where I am currently living. In 2015, I was told that, even with all the help and improvement and therapy I did, I am still not considered "deployable". This means that, by April 28 2016, my 11 year military career will be over.
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