My first jobs were a series of Saturday jobs, from cleaning narrow boats to preparing vegetables at a boys school. My first and only career was in the British Army. I joined in 1984 and left in 2010 having served all over the world, including Iraq, Bosnia, Croatia, Kosovo, Finland and Germany. I learnt how to work hard to achieve my ambitions and also that life was not always fair. People do terrible things to other people and yet life goes on and has to go on. Also I learnt that people can cope in the most awful of circumstances and, with help and protection, can thrive.
As an Army woman I have faced discrimination both in policy and in practice. Women in the Army have gone through enormous change over the last 30 years as now have equality of opportunity. The advice I would give is that, if you encounter discrimination, you have to deal with it head on. Either with process or by dealing with it yourself. There is simply no excuse and those doing the discrimination need to know that. Ignoring it will make it worse.
The WRAC Association was formed in 1919 after the First World War, as the Queen Mary’s Army Auxiliary Corps, and has gone through various evolutions including during the Second World War. As the position of women changed in society so they changed in the Army. As the role of women broadened so did their need for camaraderie and Benevolence grants to help those who found themselves in financial need. The WRAC Association now serves all female veterans who joined the Army prior to 1992and some who have joined after this. The Association is a membership organisation which offers friendship and opportunities to celebrate being a woman in the Army as well as the distribution of Benevolence grants for those in need.
What makes it different from other Service Charities is that we only deal with female veterans. No other service Charity does this.
I would emphasis that it was due to her, and thousands of other women’s Service that we exist and we are only here to help female veterans. All grants are in the strictest confidence.
Those women joining the Services now have equality of opportunity and can join whatever they want. There are no restrictions. I would say give it a go and give it your best. The training is hard but if you work hard you will progress. The Army gives you so much more than a salary. It gives you self confidence, motivation and a fantastic team of people to work with. It is unlike any other job. Exciting, rewarding and a career for life if you want it.
I think the idea of self care is a relatively recent one. I have learnt of ways I can relax. Reading and walking the dog now I am retired. Whilst I was serving, the job was all consuming and relaxation was a rare thing. I now understand we all need self care but it is something I have learnt recently.
Vital support has been given to me by partners, a small and close circle of friends and family. I have known some of my friends for over 45 years so they really know me well. They have been my constant as I have lived around orotund the world.
In society the one change I would like to see is a change in the way physical and emotional abuse is viewed. There is still an assumption by some that a level of abuse is just something you have to accept. I disagree very strongly and would like to see society being made to understand this.