In this article, we bring forward Scott Carey’s transition story to civilian life. Having joined the army at 18 years old, Scott left 7 years later as a Sapper after he successfully completed a cadre.
Can you describe your transition from the armed forces to civilian life? What were the biggest challenges you faced during this period, and how did you overcome them?
It felt quite easy at first, but it got more difficult as time progressed. Having spent 4 years in Norther Ireland (an active campaign from 1969-2007), it became increasingly obvious that I was missing my army mates and the ability to unwind. We had been through some life changing moments and my civvy mates, whilst interested, understood very little about the impact of prolonged exposure to that type of environment.
I decided to move to London from Brighton and make a clean start which worked well.
How have the skills and experiences you gained in the armed forces influenced your work or daily life as a civilian? Can you provide specific examples?
I have become more empathetic to people and their struggles/needs. I also find that I will often help others in difficult circumstances, even at cost to myself. I have been trained in explosives primarily as a Royal Engineer but also learnt Combat Medic skills. I have been involved in numerous incidents assisting people with bad injuries from RTAs to assaults. My lasting memory is saving a friend’s life after an unprovoked assault (he was a landlord attacked by a customer). This has caused me a certain level of anxiety since because if I wasn’t there, he’d be dead (this is what he said the surgeon at A&E told him). Sounds dramatic but it’s a simple fact…and he owes me a beer!
What transferable skills did you acquire during your military service that have been particularly valuable in your civilian career? How do you apply these skills in your current role?
Discipline, compassion, analytical thinking.
How has your military background shaped your approach to problem-solving and decision-making? Can you give an example of a situation where you utilized these skills outside of the military?
It taught me how to best use the resources available. When it comes to a staffing pool, you need to understand how you can best optimise their time whilst also understanding the need for rest. A change can also be as good as a rest so rotation of roles and different responsibilities also keeps them invested. I often used this when working in stadia.
In what ways has your military experience helped you adapt to new environments and work effectively within diverse teams? Can you share a specific instance where these skills were advantageous in?
Compassion has to be key here. Understanding that whilst people work in one team, they are also one individual, and each have their own complex requirements. Understanding these and the best fit of individuals within a team is paramount. There are no weak links in a team, there are merely different skill sets.
What strategies have you employed to manage the transition from a highly structured military environment to the comparatively flexible civilian workplace? How do you maintain discipline and focus?
Discipline and understanding – nothing too complex.
Have you encountered any misconceptions or stereotypes about military veterans in your civilian life or career? How have you addressed or challenged those misconceptions?
Many times. It’s simply down to many people not understanding the role. The military exist to deter conflicts, not start them. I’m often asked, “why would you join the army, you have to kill people?” Some, unfortunately have but it’s not the primary role as previously mentioned.
“Why would you give control of your life to someone else?” It’s a regular 9-5 job for the majority of time, you have plenty of free time and plenty of laughs.
“Was it hard?” It was, but it was also a lot of fun and you make friends for life!
The key role for ex-forces is to educate, we exist for an important reason and our skill sets have benefitted many people, employers, and society as a whole.
How do you handle stress and pressure in your current work to maintain your mental health, do the coping mechanisms you developed in the military contribute to your resilience as a civilian?
I do so by analysing and asking the right questions such as “why has this happened? “how can this be resolved?”
Rest is also key. The main coping mechanism is to try and not allow frustration to become a key player – there is always a solution, it might just take time to find……and be pragmatic!
Can you discuss any leadership experiences you had in the military and how you have applied those leadership skills in your civilian career or personal life?
This is down to compassion again! If you don’t understand your team, you could be “flogging a dead horse.” People work in different ways and at different speeds – understand those two main principles and play to their strengths, if you focus on their weaknesses you will only have a team that is set to fail due to poor leadership.
Do you continue to stay connected to and support other veterans or service members in your community? Have you found ways to give back or assist fellow veterans in their transition to civilian life?
I do. Fundamentally ex-forces colleagues understand where you have come from, and you understand where they come from. I have assisted with many cases of PTSD in my previous role at a stadium. Like many people, ex-forces just need someone to understand and hear them…not just listen!
What advice would you give to someone leaving the forces and considering a career in Security?
Give it a go! So many skills learnt in the forces are transferable to a team-based work environment……some that you never thought were.