What is Reserves Day?
The 26th June marks Reserves Day in the UK and as a Lt. Col in the Reserves I am proud to be celebrating being part of this wonderful supportive community. Reserves Day celebrates those who volunteer their time to serve in the Reserve Forces, be that Army, Navy, RAF or the Royal Marines, providing specialist knowledge and skills and ready to be called upon in times of need. As explained on the official website:
The Reserve Forces make up approximately one sixth of our Armed Forces personnel and as such are integral to protecting the nation’s security at home and overseas, particularly providing capability in specialist areas such as medical and cyber.
Why did I join the Reserves?
For me, joining the Reserves was the fulfilment of a lifelong dream.
I have always felt a strong connection to the Military community; sometimes I feel like I have must have served in the Armed Forces in a former life, it’s in my blood.
As a civilian myself, setting up X-Forces Enterprise to the support the Armed Forces into enterprise and working with the Military community on a daily basis simply reinforced the admiration and respect I have for this dedicated, selfless and resilient community. One day I decided I could wait no longer and I joined the Reserve Forces and have not looked back since.
What appeals to me the most is the ethos of the Armed Forces community – everyone supporting each other; being part of a fantastic community with a binding sense of service. A true sense of belonging. This is something shared by the whole military community. We all belong. Plus, I’ve always admired people smartly dressed in uniform so that’s been an added bonus for me!
Balancing civilian duties against military duties
Being in the Reserves requires balancing your civilian life and commitments against your military duties. This is one of the main concerns which other civilians often have about joining the Reserves as many Reservists often have an existing employment and family commitments. However, with the right organisation, dedication and time-management skills this can be managed:
Anyone who knows me will say that I’m very organised. Being a reservist has definitely put an added emphasis on this! Being disciplined around managing my diary has been important to ensure I can try to maintain the balance around work, family and reservist duties … and try to find a little bit of time for R&R! Getting that balance right is crucial to ensure you can give your personal best.
As an employer and a Reservist myself, I recognise the invaluable contribution which Reservists can make and so I have been eagerly campaigning and supporting the movement for as many businesses as possible to sign the Armed Forces Covenant. Not only will this encourage companies to recognise the skills our Armed Forces have, but it will ensure that Reservists receive the support they need to dedicate time towards their Reserve duties and their employments.
The benefits and challenges of being in the Reserves
One of the main benefits of serving in the Reserve Forces has undoubtedly been the new friends I have made since joining. in the Armed Forces we all need to work together as a team to support each other in potentially the most challenging circumstances. I value that ethos and the friendships I have made.
Being a reservist is also a fantastic way to boost existing skills and acquire new ones. I have particularly enjoyed looking at risk management and problem solving through the eyes of the military. The unique situations you are exposed to as part of the Military community are something you would not be able to experience elsewhere and this exclusivity and mental challenge can be truly exhilarating.
This is not to say that joining the Reserves has been without it’s challenges! At X-Forces Enterprise we support people transitioning from the armed forces community into ‘civvy street’ by enabling them maximise their skills in civilian life.
It’s important to recognise that similar support can be needed when the journey is in the opposite direction; from civilian life to the military. From systems, process and protocols, right through to understanding language and terminology. For example, the Armed Forces love their 3 letter acronyms. On day one department functions and address titles could be written in hieroglyphics for all I knew! But …. I’m getting there.
Being a voluntary reservist enables me to give something back whilst growing as a person and enjoying being part of the Armed Forces Community I so respect and love whist giving back to my country. I’d encourage anyone considering joining the Reserves to join up today and experience a true sense of challenge, support and belonging.