The rewards and challenges of being a reservist in the Armed Forces

There are a number of benefits and opportunities that come with being a Reservist in the Armed Forces. From developing individual skills to experiencing weekends with a difference, such as practicing marksmanship principles when shooting a rifle or training for the new role fitness test.

A career in the reserves offers personal development in various areas. It has allowed me to enhance my decision making abilities in high tempo environments; improve time management between reserve duties, work, family and leisure, and develop resilience, among other skills. Importantly, these skills are transferrable to civilian jobs, benefiting both the individual and the employer.

Reservists are deployed in operations around the world, I have been lucky to have the opportunity to undertake different, diverse roles. The training for these tasks and the experiences gained significantly broaden one’s perspective. Serving in the reserves often takes you out of your comfort zone and challenge you, which in return builds an individual’s confidence and ability. These competencies that a company will find beneficial in their staff.

The Reserves offers me something that a civilian job can’t replicate. It involves work with a difference, such as setting up an office in a tent in the middle of a desert, participating in adventure training in the Baltic sea, and representing the army in a sport, where one is paid to train and play a sport I loved.

However, being a reservist comes with its challenges. The additional commitment is akin to having two jobs: one from Monday to Friday and the other from Friday to Sunday. Depending on your unit, you may train one weekend a month or even more, with drill nights on Tuesdays too. As a result, your personal and family time starts to become less, but it certainly makes you value it more whilst making the most of family time.  The satisfaction that I have from being part of the reserves and the experiences gained make it all worthwhile.

However, none of this would be possible without the support of an understanding employer, and that’s what Bays provides. They show interest and support where possible time off to attend courses/ exercises.  They provide me flexibility in managing my working hours, enabling me to keep to a fitness program in order to meet and pass the required physical employment standards of the army. This program includes a new fit-for-role fitness test that simulates actions required during operations or exercise. The test is demanding, involving a series of physically taxing tasks with short intervals in between. It pushes individuals to their limits, testing their endurance, strength, and resilience.

Recovering from such a test can be challenging, but essential for the next day’s activities. My top tip for recovery is a cold bath of at least 5 minutes. It may be uncomfortable and painful, but it is only a small part of what I do as a Reservist. The opportunity to enjoy a range of extraordinary experiences and develop new skills that are not part of my day-to-day life makes it all worthwhile.

Overall, being a Reservist in the Armed Forces offers unique rewards and challenges. The personal growth, diverse roles, and exceptional experiences contribute to a fulfilling and enriching journey, while the support of understanding employers makes it all possible.

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