The Writeforyour.life blog shares insights into veterans’ transition and narrative transformation.
Military work can occupy 24 hours a day and seven days a week, and it frequently involves working, sleeping and socialising with the same people, in a ‘self-contained social world’ (Brotz and Wilson, 1946, p. 371).
With its ‘different ways of communicating and relating to others, different living arrangements, […] and different standards of behaviour, dress, and bodily comportment’ (Cooper et al., 2016, p. 166), it is often described as more of a ‘life’ than a job (McDermott, 2007; Jolly, 1996).
It is also a job that for most, ends well before a traditional working life is over. If a Service person does not retire (and in the UK context that can occur well before state retirement age), it is because—to be blunt—they have ceased to exist. It is the latter commitment—that of potentially sacrificing one’s life—that is perhaps the starkest difference between military and most other occupations, and it is one that every Service person is in no doubt about. It is certainly a burden that implies almost total commitment to the institution—an institution that can mean life or death.