The Missing Family Support in Defence life
It is no secret, defence life is tough on families. There are some vital parts missing for family support in defence.
You ask anyone what their experience had been and I’ll guarantee you will get a huge range of answers. From good to not so good. But it’s the average responses that require more attention.
As a family in defence it’s easy to claim all is merry.
It is as it is because, well, it has to be.
It’s the life we chose or agreed to.
But it is also one that many did not know of the life altering implications it can have on you and your family.
Life is instantly different once those papers are signed.
There’s a constant battle of not knowing what is going on. Somehow missing out on what seems like all the fun, when in reality it’s just a whole lot of rules and regs that now dictate how your person acts, speaks and walks.
What you’re missing out on is not fun. It’s not a boys club. It’s not ideal.
It starts out with lack of information and it doesn’t really end.
Finding out anything about your future will now be hard work. It almost seems easier to just not plan ahead.
Postings change, flights change, coming home days change. Fluid is now a term you will be forced to embrace.
Understanding these things quickly is key to not dwelling on the things you cannot control – because lets face it, that list is now a long one.
It’s true, your person has joined, they are the member. Not you. Nor us. Nor the family. But there is an important part that many do not tell you and it is one of the most important things to remember. You are a unit. Even more so than before. You need to stick together, support each other and have each others back.
Some of what’s to come will rely on the strength that you have in each other.
Sometimes all you have is each other.
Posting away from family and friends is one of the hardest things I’ve had to do. I’m not alone.
In the moment it’s easy to get caught up on the fact that it’s just a new adventure. You’ll make new friends. Keep in contact with old ones. Though It’s not as easy as it sounds. Certainly with heavier pressures such as COVID-19, the difficulty intensifies.
Sure there are a few things on offer to help settle in. Some Facebook groups, Mothers groups, family days (if all goes ahead) don’t go astray. There are some things that are just missing from those events.
The real honest connection.
The intimate conversation about what exactly to expect. How to find out information and what types of plans need to be made.
It almost seems silly to dwell on these things, but you don’t know what you don’t know.
Defence is a whole new world. For all involved.
We need care packs. Care people. Buddies to get us through.
We as families need an instant connection, a face we can rely on for honest information when we feel like we can’t find any answers.
It’s not even about the physical catch up’s anymore (although they are still nice). It’s the emotional support for those of us still at home. Navigating finding a job when your person just goes to work on Monday.
Navigating your first uplift, knowing what you’re entitled to and who to speak to about all of it.
Sure, we are meant to find those things out through our people, but let’s face it, sometimes they are like the school kids who bring notes home from school *what notes?*
If we can’t forever evolve to fill the gaps that appear, then what are we going to achieve in life?
The gap that appears…
New family support.
How is this gap going to be filled?
Well I’m a big believer in not reinventing the wheel. Do you remember at school when you started school and you didn’t know where anything was? You were put in a place where you didn’t know anyone or anything.
What did they do?
The buddy system.
It needs a come back in our adult lives. It needs to be implemented into situations like these. New families, not understanding the new rules and regs. The people who don’t know themselves where to get access to information just yet.
A familiar face, a voice of reason.
Someone who can be a mentor in this new life of yours.
Sometimes we can get caught up on the wrong details. Somehow time served and deployments become the meter for measuring how much you can feel. How much you are allowed to feel impacted by the events going on.
However, in the case of lived experience that can be passed on. A friendly face that can be seen – even via video calls. A reminder that we were all there once upon a time. Time served plays an important part. Especially to those who have no lived experience to fall back on.
I can make this change. We can make this change. You can impact another family in a positive way. Be that shoulder, be that sidekick.