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The British Army provides a real way out for many people, it gives morales and standards to many young people, who otherwise wouldnt have a chance of survival in their home environment.
As an employer, it often neglects its duty of care, and the work environments can be exceptionally challenging, the day to day life often crosses the thin line of ridiculousness, and again, as an employer, the Ministry of Defence fails to protect its employees from several areas of harm that should not be found in the Army.
The Recruitment process usually starts in the Recruiting Station, where a potential recruit will make several visits to discuss their options.
After a few tests, they can choose a trade, in which the Army will train them to be proficient in their undertakings. As time continues the Soldier will gain valuable experience in his trade, and gain more qualifications.
When ready, the potential recruit will visit a selection centre, where the Army will try to better understand the persons ability to be a soldier. Tests take place, like a medical, physical and mental aptitude test - Typically this lasts a weekend.
If succesful, the applicant will have an attestation date, where they will return to the recruiting office, and take the oath of allegiance in front of an officer, following this, they will be called forward for basic training.
Basic training occurs at several locations around the country, depending on which branch of the army the applicant has joined, usually, the applicant will be with other soldiers from their own Corps, or even Regiment.
Training lasts about 11 weeks, and in this time, the recruit will learn all about basic soldiering skills, as well as developing their mental and Physical Stamina.
Often recruits will fall by the side, and be found not to be suitable for the army, and therefore discharged. A window of opportunity comes after a fortnight, where the recruit can leave of free will if they do not wish to continue, at all other times, they are locked in by Crown Contract.
Some recruits may fail to meet the standards, and in this case, they may be selected to go back a step, usually called back troopings, and may have to go to another troop, 2 weeks behind them, or be placed in a holding troop to enhance their physical ability for example.
At the end of the 11 week period (Which seems like a life time) the recruit then enjoys their \"Passing out Parade\" a family day, where Mums and Dads (Typically) come and see their loved ones march up an down a Square (Parade type place)
Most recruits then move towards trade training, which for many is much much harder than the basic training.
This can last from a few weeks, to a year or so, depending on their trade, and is often refered to as Phase II and Phase III training.
Many Cap Badges see this as the time when they mold the recruit into a Soldier, and certainly for the Royal Military Police, Royal Engineers and the more traditional and solid formations of the Army, this is true.
Soldiers can also opt to specialise, for example, become Paratrooper attachements, or Commando Attachments, this option remains for the rest of their career though, but undoubtedly it is best to make this move when at the peak of your physical fitness (It soon goes downhill after a posting)
ARRIVAL AT UNIT
After the whole training process is over, the soldier will recieve his posting orders, and may be sent to Germany, Cyprus, or UK somewhere.
This is the true Baptism of Fire, although most units are perfectly civilised these days, others are not, and the young soldier may find himself in a perpetual den of inpropriety where bullying of all natures is a regular, and ignored, occurance.
After time has passed, and this becomes the norm, of if they are lucky enough to be with other fine upstanding soldiers, the soldiers unit will undertake many many excercises, typically in the local area, but also in Canada, Cyprus, Poland, Czech Republic and the Falkland Islands.
Camp life can be mundane during the working day, with a large proportion of soldiers being employed as cleaners, but when the time comes, and tour takes place, all the training, and \"Bonding\" pays off, and typically the British Army to a sterling job, with the minimum of equipment.
As time passes, promotion is available, this involves more arduous training usually, which some find harder than anything they have ever done, the first rank, is the hardest to get, and the easiest to loose (Lance Corporal, Lance Bombadier etc)
Eventually, positions of senior management may become available, all the way to, and beyond commission (Becoming an Officer)
During the soldiers career, continual training and assesment occurs to ensure the soldier has an in depth knowledge of new legislation and techniques for their job.
They can also furthur more specialise in other trades and skills, and opt for Special Forces and so on, but this is chosen by the minority.
On leaving the Army, the come down is immense, you are given a \"Red Book\" which is your future reference for employers, but most civvilian employers have little interest in your military past, more so if you have become a manager in the army, as it equates to very little in the real world.
The Army holds courses called \"Resettlement\" to teach skills important for the civvilian world, including CV writing and how to apply for a job, but often units do not see the full value of this, and subsequently, Soldiers are often neglected to be put on the course.
Typically, soldiers can expect to leave the Army with a dim prospect, as statistics show the majority of homeless men of British Origin, aged over 30, are ex military. It is also known that most soldiers will have several jobs after leaving the forces before they are able to settle down.
Other issues include the trauma\'s faced by a career in the Army, like PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) which isnt handled too well by the MoD, often the soldier will have to find help himself with a GP (Followed by a few years waiting) or with a Charity called \"Combat Stress\", which is stretched to the maximum at present due to the Army\'s commitments in hostile areas globally.
Many Soldiers also leave with undiagnosed injuries and illnesses, such as Lymes Disease, Liver and Kidney Disorders, Spinal Problems, and it is known that for the majority of soldiers who serve 22 yeas or more in the Army, they often fail to reach pension age, this is more so the case with Infantry Soldiers and Engineers who are continuously placing their bodies in physically and mentally demanding situations daily, so simply they burn out.
The Friends you make, are for life, even though on leaving, you will not see them for quite a few years to come usually, the bond between soldiers is immense, and as you come accross other ex servicemen, you instantly click with them, in a way civvilians cant.
In my experience, I am so glad I have had the opportunity to be a soldier for 8 years, but I could not go through it again, and smile at the same time!