I May Lose My Uniform, My JOB and My IDENTITY

I’ve debated for a while as to whether or not I should post on this topic, but since this blog is meant to be about my experiences within the military, and that includes ALL of the experiences, which I promised myself not to censor, I have some sad news. In previous posts, I wrote about my broken leg (within my knee joint) that has caused me medical problem after medical problem and heaps of pain. It now appears that this issue may release me from the military. My medical file has gone up to Ottawa and my career sits in their hands. If they decide I am no longer medically fit for military service, then I will be a civilian a few short months later. Here’s something important to understand about being a soldier…you have to meet what is called the Universality of Service (U of S). Essentially, the U of S consists of several physical and stress criteria that you must meet in order to remain in the military. Some examples are you have to be able to evacuate a casualty (I can hardly move my own knee sometimes, much less pull someone else out of danger) or you may have to be able to perform a “low crawl” (impossible as I can’t even be on my hands and knees due to pain). The U of S is not designed to be discriminatory, but rather, the reality of our jobs means that we will be in harm’s way and harsh situations that require you to be able to look after yourself. It’s just the nature of what we do. I would never want to put someone in danger because I am unable to do the certain physical things that my job demands of me, especially in war. Although I have a desk job for the most part, none of us in the Forces are exempt from the possibility of working in some seriously austere conditions. So unfortunately, with my knee in the state that it is, I no longer meet all of the criteria for the U of S and I will likely be out of the military within the next year once the medical people in Ottawa make their decision. This is something I was expecting to an extent but the reality of it is so much more…shocking. Because here’s the thing…I’ve had this job since I had just turned 18. I knew I had a job right out of university. I knew I would make a salary I could happily live on. I knew I would see and do exciting things. I have been so lucky but the reality is that I have been indoctrinated into this world. I know military way of life and nothing else, especially considering I grew up in an Army environment as a child. The military has become part of me. Part of my identity…and that’s completely natural…most military people feel that way. And now, faced with the prospect of losing a job that I feel so much pride in, I am flooded with a variety of emotions. Scared. Nervous. Excited…all because I am so proud to be a Canadian Forces Officer. My commissioning scroll is one of my prized possessions. I read it often to remind me of why I joined the forces in the first place. Because I believe in what the Canadian military fights for. I should point out that the military provides me with a ton of opportunities because of this release. They will send me back to school. Send me to interview and resume writing classes. They will do everything they can to assist me in getting into the civilian world. And in so many ways, I feel excited to pursue my passion of writing and editing and turn those passions into a JOB, not just a hobby.  But when the military is all you know, it feels so very daunting. What if no one wants to hire me? What is people think a degree in Writing is a joke? What if I’m just not marketable on civilian street? None of these questions can be answered right now. The reality is, I need to just let things stay the course until I have more answers. Most of all, I need to accept that I may very well be a civilian soon. And that maybe this is the direction my life is meant to take. Maybe my writing will lead me to great things. And maybe, there is an entire life out there that doesn’t involve this uniform, which will be wonderful in it’s own separate way. Kelly

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