What is the Military Human: Understanding Military Culture and Transition CPD and how does it work?
One of my main tasks was to understand the origins of the statement “Civvies don’t understand” and look behind the statement often heard by service providers when engaging with ex Armed Forces personnel and their families.
Why do people say it, what does it mean and how could I help a person from a non-military background achieve a level of understanding of military culture and transition to civilian life. This became the basis of the Military Human concept.
I recognised that understanding the combat element of military life was not necessarily achievable but by taking a person-centred approach to the journey from recruit through transition and to becoming a veteran could be explored and described.
To do this I had to:
• Think about who joined the military and why, where did they come from and what did they want to achieve by joining the military?
• What happened during the first stages of training?
• How are people developed into what the military need them to be?
• How is a sense of identity created?
• How does being in the military satisfy human needs?
• What are the core values and culture and how do these affect service personnel and their families?
• How does having a collective purpose and team orientated approach work in the military?
• How do the Core Values (CDRILS in the Army) develop the soldier and their sense of trust, loyalty, selflessness, and leadership?
• What recognised theories apply to the journey and explain the stages of development?
• What is the same in civilian as the military and what is different?
• What happens when these elements that are the norm in military life, are perceived to be absent or different in civilian life?
• Is the significant investment of human emotions recognised when in the military or behind the wire?
• Are these recognised when leaving the military or is emotional transition overlooked?
• Is adjustment recognised as a normal part of transition and to be expected?
• Will there be an element of culture shock experienced?
• What services are available to access should they be required?
By taking a fully holistic approach to the military journey and applying commonly used recognised theories and models it has become much easier to explore the military journey and create a level of understanding for non-military people as the common denominator is that we are all human beings with needs, concerns, emotions, and challenges. However, one of the key areas that stands out is the intensity of personal and emotional investment in others required to be part of the military where people literally can keep each other alive.
This usually highlights that talking about such things can be perceived by some in the military as weak or a bit fluffy, when in fact it is possibly the most emotionally intense journey many will experience in their lives.
This when applied to transition, demonstrates why many experience feelings of loss when they leave but can’t put their finger on the origins because such things are not usually openly discussed. So, by reflecting on CDRILS, core values, sense of belonging and family and recognising the intense emotional investment, it becomes apparent that a ‘normal’ (whatever that is) reaction to transition and adjustment should be expected and is usually the case. However, what the Military Human CPD highlights is that appears to be a gap in pre discharge preparation around the inevitable transition, adjustment emotional reaction to change that all human beings experience in different ways. I have written about this in the FIMT Lifting Our Sights research project and always signpost veterans and providers to the excellent tool created by Prof Vince Connelly MOD Transition the emotional pathway
So, there it is the Military Human, to date over 3500 staff have participated in either lectures or webinars, and importantly the students at YSJU receive the lectures to prepare them for engaging with the armed forces community during their professional careers. Its always evolving as I believe that there is always an opportunity to learn something new and things change, and we have adapt accordingly to meet the need.