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Cpl (retired) Susan

Cpl (retired) Susan

Growing up as an Army Brat and then joining the military, the only life that I ever knew and felt completely at home in, was the military.

The military was not just a job, it was a way of life, a unique culture and closed society.

Leaving the military was the most difficult challenge I have ever faced! "Civi Street" was foreign to me and I had to learn to adapt and develop skills to deal with them. Little things (which can be perceived as rudeness or standoffishness on Civi Street)  such as the directness of speech we use and the need for immediate action is usually not acceptable and takes a lot of work to modify. Can you imagine being given an order that we had to decipher? "Cpl, could you please, when you have a moment?"  So, I must say, it was absolutely comfortable to be with other veterans and serving members who also have a directness in their communication, it was refreshing.

Today, when I meet members that I have served with,(which is difficult as I am no longer in the military) it is as if time never moved for us and we are buddies just the same as we were then. It is a sense of belonging and loyalty that is carried with us forever and always. Having the opportunity to participate in the Soldier On event, I truly felt as if I was with "my people" once again. For a brief period of time, years fell away and I was right where I belonged. We all know that we need a place where we feel a sense of belonging.

I did feel a lack of self-confidence approaching the event, but that is because I did not know if I would fit in after all these years. It was a fear that I needed not to have had, as Shannon, the Event Coordinator, and everyone involved in the event were not judging but accepting everyone as an equal when we arrived, and from that basis we supported one another and went on to enjoy an awesome event. Remember, "Servitum Nulli Secundus" and "Carry On"!

The day before the start of the course I was wavering and almost called to cancel. I just didn't want to be around a bunch of strangers. Many of you probably know what this is like. Well, after the first hour, I was so glad that I didn't cancel. It was just amazing to be around a group of my peers who have been through similar trials as me, and people who had a similar world view. I felt at home. This was but one part, a major part, of the event for me.
Having been self-taught to kayak, I was amazed at my ignorance and the amount of knowledge I acquired over the two days of the course. For four years I would go out on the rivers and come home exhausted. Now I have techniques that will ensure I have a more enjoyable trip on the water without expending all of my energy. I even know how to get back into my kayak, albeit my modified "cowboy" definitely was not in the least bit graceful.
The service providers were amazing! Their knowledge, patience and sense of humour contributed greatly to the overall enjoyment of the course.
Would I attend another Soldier On event? Yes, I certainly would!

The Invisible Beast

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