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Have You ever thought about joining the Military?
Have you ever thought what would it be like to join the Army, Navy or Airforce.
Here are some of the Questions that ran through my head before I joined. What defence force should I join? What Job would I do? will I make good money? Is it as good or is it as bad as people say? Will I travel? Will I have to go to war? Is it fun? Will I meet new people and make friends? What happens if I don’t fit in? Will I get to learn how to use a gun? What will my family and friends think? What will my girlfriend think?
And my list would go on and on and on. Let me give you my point of view when I first started out.
I was 17 1/2 when I enlisted in to the Royal Australian Navy. Here are a few things that I thought about before I joined.
I did not have to join the defence force as I was offered an apprenticeship as an aircraft engineer at the time so I had a big dissension to make. So I asked myself What Defence force should I join? so many possibilities and really cool things to do. I decided on the Navy, I looked at Army and Air force especially Air force as I was training to be a aircraft engineer however I wanted to travel and the navy had helicopters on their ships so I could work on those and still go around the world and get paid. So Navy it is
So i went to recruiting
What job will I do? I walked in to recruiting and bang a Navy, Army and Air force guy came straight up to me, introduced themselves and asked what I would like to do, I said nervously aarrhh Navy, the navy guy smiled and said come with me buddy let me show you what we can offer. He was a leading seaman and really well spoken, he spoke to me like I was already in the Navy, like I was part of the team. He asked me what my previous work history was and my schooling. He showed me some recruiting videos of some of the jobs the navy does and they really opened up my eyes to the possibilities. After the videos we had a chat I first requested to become a Helicopter engineer but was informed no jobs were available at that time and then for a Combat systems operator role as I thought working in that small bat cave type area you see in the movies looking at the radars and all that looked and seemed pretty cool, but again all the positions were full. Bugger I thought to myself I am not having much luck, I for some reason felt down and went quite. I thought if I can get what I want I don’t want anything so I pretty much got up and walked out, a typical 17 year old tantrum I would say. Feeling down and rather upset I sat outside a few blocks down from the recruiting office and thought naar bugger this lets just join so I went back. After walking back in to recruiting I said right what else you got, I was told a Cook, Boatswains Mate or a Steward. I said to myself well I cant cook so being a chef is out, I asked about the boatswains mate role, I was informed you will be trained in small arms weapons, 9mm pistol, shotguns, semi automatic and automatic machine guns, fast roping out of helicopters, boarding operations, seamanship, ships husbandry. I thought hay this is sounding good, I then asked about a steward and well history has shown I decided on the Boatswains job.
The recruiter informed me about the Wages and I’ll tell you now they are a lot better nowadays than when i joined in 1998. After seeing the videos and talking to the recruiter I could see how team orientated and the discipline in the sailor were. How they lived on the ships, and everything so seeing and speaking to the recruiter answered a lot of my questions.
I found that the Navy could take me places I would never of thought to go to, so my travel questions were answered easily. Just to add after I finished recruit school and posted on to my first ship HMAS Canberra in Western Australia, 2 days later I sailed for an up top trip and spent 2 months going around Indonesia and Malaysia. Not bad hu. Paid trip. During my whole time in defence I have been to Malaysia, Indonesia, every State in Australia many times, New Zealand, Pacific Islands, Japan, Iraq, Afghanistan, the list could just go on and on.
I asked about going to WAR Surprisingly at 17 it was something I did consider, I was told well yes there will always be a chance that you will need to protect your country and go to war. “Is it going to happen in the near future I can’t answer that” he said but if you do you will be so well trained you will know how to look after yourself and your fellow shipmates. HHmmmm I thought well he has a point, but the chances of having to go to war, nnaarr that will not happen. ( I ended up going to War During Operations Slipper and Falconer in Iraq from 2002-2003 but still alive to tell the story.
Will I make new Friends? I think back now and wonder why I ever did ask myself that question but of course I did. I have lost count over the years of how many friends I have made in the Defence force. You need to think I served on 3 Major War ships, containing over 220 personnel each, all the people I met whilst working on smaller vessels, all the people I met whilst working on land bases, the list is huge. I made some normal friends and I made some lifelong friends. I even met my wife whilst in the defence force. You will all ways make friends in the defence force. Even when you get out like I am now, you will always keep in contact with them. They are your family from the day you enlist yourself in to any defence force until the day you die. They become your family, your brothers and sisters.
What will my Family and Friends think? For me my family were supportive from the day I first said I was interested in joining the military until today. The hard one for me was my friends. I would cop silly comments like you join you will die, don’t join the navy poofters join the navy, what about us you just going to leave us behind and crap like that. Out of all the friends I thought I had before I joined I only keep in contact with 1 out of all of them. Most of the friends I was hanging around with at the time are Dead, Jail, Some are still working for McDonalds, and really did not do much with their lived. Don’t get me wrong some have great lives, married, doctors dentists etc, but most really did not make much of themselves. But I never forgot them, when I returned home on leave I would catch up with them etc, but most of the times if my ship pulled in to port I spent time with my family and partied hard with my shipmates.
Well I hope I have given a little in site on decision making if you wish to join the defence force. Honestly if I had my life again I would do it all the same way again. Yer I went to War but it has made me in to a stronger and more supportive man to my family and friends.
If you want more information from my perspective please sign up and email me, otherwise if you are keen get down to your local defence force recruiting centre and have a chat to them. Going to see them does not mean they are going to chuck a uniform on you and bang you become a soldier or sailor. They are there to talk you through everything and assist you in making the best decision you can make.
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