RAFairman's Blog

An RAF Airman's Blog

This Is The End…My Friend The End…(Almost)…

So.

There we go then.  The secret is out.  That I’d applied for the Armed Forces Redundancy Scheme.  And yesterday I found out I’d been accepted and selected for redundancy from the RAF. I had volunteered and my number had come up. And I am happy about this. Very happy.

After 25 years, I felt that it was time for a change.  I am, and always will be terribly proud of being a member of the Royal Air Force, but we all move on, we all grow, we all change.  And since I got back from Afghan I had felt like that I had changed a bit and that I wanted more and different experiences.

I want a bit of control over my life you see. The one thing that you do give up when you become a member of the armed forces is that control over your life – where you live, what job you will be doing…and that had become too much for me.  I need to have a bit of control.

To be honest, despite the brave face I have been putting on on here and on Twitter, it’s been a difficult 7-8 months since I got back from Afghan.  I initially found it easy settling back in to the swing of things, but soon a strange feeling of anger hit me.  I had trouble dealing with stressy situations – not big dramatic moments – just the day-to-day niggely stresses. I struggled.  My family struggled. I made others around me struggle.

Things got tough for me to cope with and it sort of came to a head in late April/early May when I found myself become very frustrated and then having very angry outbursts. This would be a total overreaction to whatever the person had done – usually Lily, my three year old daughter, Therese my wife, or Mahsa my dog.  I would launch into a stream of verbal anger reducing the first two to tears very quickly and the puppy to a quaking wreck.

It wasn’t fair.  It wasn’t fair on any of them.  Lily was just being a three year old – doing as three year olds do. Mahsa just a puppy! Therese, just trying to help.

And this would then, five minutes…two minutes…10 seconds after the out burst make me feel bad.  I’d feel bad for them and then feel bad for me and this would become a cycle I have identified myself…

Frustration – Anger – Guilt – Despression.

I would end up quite depressed and low and moody and miserable. And I eventually grasped the nettle and booked myself into see the doc here who has been, I have to say, bloody amazing. Absolutely brilliant.  I’ve been referred off and seen the Community Psychiatric Nurse over at the Metal Health centre at Brize and I’ve had a really good start at getting me back in my own mind and getting myself (my self) back in order. I am not there yet, but on the road.

And I think that this all fits back to that lack of control.  I didn’t have any control over my life. I think that you can cope with this for so long, as long as the benefits of the lack of control out weigh the drawbacks of it…but recently for me they didn’t anymore.  I wanted…want more.

I want to choose where I live and what job I do.  I know that the job world isn’t that rosey right now, but the thought of being posted to do a job i might not want to do, in a place where I don’t want to be…well that blew my mind.  I just couldn’t deal with that anymore.  I am not going to turn this into a moan about life in the military, because life in the military has been bloody brilliant…but costs v benefits…it just didn’t even out for me anymore.

So when the opportunity to leave as part of the redundancy scheme came up – and I was in the field – I grasped THAT nettle too. So back in February I filled in the application and then basically waited whilst my head fell further apart and I slightly lost myself.

And then today. A phone call to see the Wing Commander.  A tense minute or two as he got to the point and then him looking at his piece of paper in front of him and saying the words ‘You HAVE been selected for redundancy…’ followed by me saying ‘YES!” a little too loudly…and then a nice long chat with him and me leaving his office with a thick cream envelope with lots of information and a lot to do.

And…

Not quite a weight lifted off completely…but certainly a clear vision of the route forward now.  I really have no idea what job I am going to do when I leave the RAF in December – just in time for Christmas – and I (we) have a lot to do to get to that point…but now…it’s in MY hands. I have a bit of control. Over where we settle. What house we buy. What job I look for.  What work I do. And the redundancy pay out is, well, lets just say, it takes the pressure off. I have done 25 years and will be leaving with a pension, and a handsome pay out that will help me get a disable chunk of a mortgage if I live in the right place…and with the fact that Therese will be leaving the Army on a medical discharge in October…we are going to be alright.

We are going to be alright.  We are lucky. I am lucky. I have had 25 years doing some bloody ace stuff.  Going to the first Gulf War.  Working on Tornado F3 fast jets.  Fixing high tech top end radar. Being on a Trials and Development team bringing a new Electonic warfare equipment into service. Instructing the future of the RAF. Trying to make this bit of it here at Benson more efficient. Flying in a Puma. Watching Tornados air-to-air refuel from the aircraft I am flying on. Flying in an F3 over the North Sea. Going to Afghan and seeing and doing ALL THAT. Making a difference. Visiting the USA, Canada, Bermuda, Germany, Portugal, Belgium, Italy, Cyprus, Spain, France, Saudi, Afghanistan. Working with some of the very best people in the world. Doing amazing things.

Yes I am very lucky to have been part of that, and whilst I will miss it sooooooo much, it is time to move on and move forward because all those things are things I have done. I can’t do them again…I can’t go back to them. I can revisit them and remember them and enjoy them, but we must look to the future and look to what we have to do next. What I have to do next. And so I will miss it all, and most of all miss the people and the belonging to something bigger and better and special. And whilst I’ll be around in the RAF for a bit longer and on here for a while yet, it is time for me to leave and go onwards.

Per Ardua Ad Astra. By struggle, to the stars.

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45 thoughts on “This Is The End…My Friend The End…(Almost)…

  1. Pixiedaddy on said:

    You are on the road to recovery with your openness, I’m sure many other service men and women will be supported through this and they too may get the help they need as well.
    Wishing you well on your new path.

    • Nightblogger on said:

      It’s not the end, it’s not even the beginning of the end, it’s just the end of the beginning and the start of something different, something new, and hopefully something good! Well done for being so open and honest – a great encouragement to the many others in a similar place. Keep on blogging through it too.

  2. I too left airforce with hvy heart. But felt time right. I had a bad patch and medical centre and Brize helped. I struggled on for a bit and realised I needed to hav control over who what went and where. After a while I came out of the very dark place I was and realised life is worth living. After a year or so i accidently found myself working with a charity as a mentor, this followed on to train as a counsellor. It’s strange like u said, I had no plans for where or what. Life takes u somewhere you wouldn’t ever of thought of

  3. Well done you for taking a massive leap, expect further conflicting and surprising emotions along the way but work through them with a positive attitude and remember you have done what is best for you and your family. Take a deep breath and enjoy your new adventures, we’ve done it, and although scary at times we knew that we had made the right decision. Thank you for your service to our country and may you be very happy wherever this journey may take you x

  4. Mark on said:

    The very best of luck to you. After 18 years of doing far less exciting things in the BBC, I’m taking redundancy and leaving at the end of September. I recognise all the emotions you write about although I’ve felt some of them for different reasons.

    There’s a big, brave, scary, exciting, world out there – we just need to go find it.

  5. Deborah Golby on said:

    I will be sad not to receive your blogs anymore once you have left the services. I have found them extremely interesting reading even though I have never been involved in the services myself! I hope you can soon find a civilian job that you will enjoy and get lots of help and support to get you through PTSD! My thought are with you and your family and your puppy.
    Look after yourself and all the best to you in whatever you choose as your new path to follow.
    God Bless you and your fellow airmen.
    From Deb of Colchester.

  6. I was also in the RAF, many years ago. I only did 6 years but it was great and contributed massively to my success later in life. There is a great life to be had in civvy street and you’ll do just fine. If I can help you in any way when you’re out, email me. Good luck to you and your family and thanks for your contribution to your country.

  7. Wishing you lots of luck for the future. And, from me, a huge thank you for sharing your experiences and opening my eyes to a world I knew very little about.

  8. ang garbutt on said:

    A wonderful blog which highlights the struggle forces personel have to overcome, written with a very open attitude. I wish for you and your family the fortitude to battle the next few months and move forward into a bright new future

  9. I opted for redundancy in 2005, mainly as i wanted to feel it had been my choice if i got it rather than someone elses, I did get it, and a handful of months later was sat at home in Cumbria, wondering what i had done.. but fear not, i found a new career, and my fiancee, and am now enjoying life outside of the AF, I did find that the Royal british legion, and especially the Riders Branch, (RBLR) have been a godsend, I am an avid Biker, and the RBLR gives me the comeraderie that was lacking in my new found life, many are ex-service, so we have stories and banter and a sense of family.

    enjoy your change of direction, because that it is all it is, not the end of a career… or your life.

  10. julie wallace on said:

    Congrats ! A new and different life awaits you and yours . Hope it’s a successful and happy one. You will have helped so many people with being so honest as I am sure there are many who feel the same and also isolated, maybe they will see your blog and realise they are not alone. Best wishes for your new and exciting future xxx

  11. Another amazing blog. Look forward to Xmas with the family, possibly in your own house, with a future thats bright, civillian, decent and full of hope. And from my heart, RAF to RAF, if there is ever anything you need, just ask.

  12. Stuart on said:

    I want to thank you for what has been at times an entertaining and sometimes a heart-rending blog. I too spent just under 25 years as a techie in the RAF and mostly enjoyed it. Like you I seriously wondered how I would fit in to civvie life (for a looooong time before it actually happened) but, in the event, walked straight into an engineering job (not high level but enough to top-up my pension.) This was over twenty years ago and I have never looked back. I retired altogether many years ago and am now able to do what I like, which involves a fair bit of charity work.

    You have shown enormous courage in sharing your recent difficulties, particularly in the ‘macho’ world of the forces and I commend you for it and wish you the very best. Please keep on blogging

  13. gerrydorrian66 on said:

    I was in a job that wasn’t going too well – nowhere as challenging as being in the forces – and was relieved to be selected for redundancy, and am now in a brilliant job. I hope things go well for you.

  14. Mac McConnell-Wood on said:

    Good luck mate…..I also grabbed a redundancy in 1976 after 27 years RAF- man and boy -the last 6 years crew chiefing on Vulcans.
    Looking back -the most interesting time of my life -but,stressful as it seems at the time -you get to bask in your memories and bore for England!
    I went on to an interesting second career based on service acquired
    skills and got another pension when I took a second redundancy from them (some people never learn)
    Let us know what prerelease courses they offer -I did a “Training officer” one at N. London Poly which was useless but gave me another piece of paper to impress future employers with….?.!
    Thanks for your blog-and all the best.

  15. Respect !!!
    Not an easy decision to make.

  16. Good stuff Sir keep it up
    I myself spent 8 years in the French Foreign Legion was in gulf and a good few other places and sice leaving i had a complete breakdown and had to psychiatric help this also lost me my entire family.
    I’m 20 years out now and i feel so so angry all the time and you now what i dont even know why most of the time i do however keep a check on it i find ways of difusing my anger towards i dunno the world or mabey just myself i dont really know i have felt this way for so long i dont remember why.
    I do however know that it has made me very empathic toward other people with problems and i try to help them wherever and whenever i can.
    Also it has made me prolific in an artsy sort of way i paint a lot and i write poetry ( mostly very dark poetry ) but it gets bad feelings of my chest.
    So yes i do salute you i salute every single soldier airman naval man that has gone or will go to a battle field its a horrible place to be and you are scared from the moment you arive to the moment you leave and the sad part is when you get back to normality all you want is the buzz of the field again

  17. Come on in the water’s, different. I came out in the 2006 scheme and haven’t regretted it for all the reasons you describe. I can’t begin to tell you how good knowing the phone isn’t going to ring with, “Sorry to bother you at home but would you..” Enjoy it fellah. Make sure Karen P up at resettlement at Benson looks after you as well as she did me

  18. This is not the end but a brand new begining, my son will also be leaving the RAF after 24 years, we are so proud to have men and women like you protecting us now go out there and make a new life for yourself and family. I wish you all the luck in the world in your new adventure.

  19. I think you’ve been very honest about the impact your state of mind has had on your family and I recognise the behaviour as something I went through years ago. I’ll always regret yelling at our beloved cat on a couple of occasions and can only think I did it because I always treated him as another person. I look back at it now and know that I must have been a complete pain to live it (still am quite honestly) but I also realise that I was really very ill. The anger I displayed to other people was actually anger aimed at myself and I think that by hurting them I was trying to hurt myself, if that makes any sense. It can be very frustrating when you can’t seem to get across to others just how bad you’re feeling at that moment. I have found that it does ease off, I just have to take a step back sometimes. Use all the help that’s made available to you and always ask for more if you need to. Don’t ever feel that you aren’t entitled to it.

    I really do hope that you get the job of your dreams in your new life. My partner was made redundant last year and became desperate by the time his new one came along. He now thinks that redundancy was the best thing that could have happened to him. I think he has to stop himself from punching the air and yelling “Yeehaw!” as he runs to the car in the morning. I’m surprised he doesn’t turn up at weekends and just sit in the carpark! Fingers crossed that what you do next gives you the same buzz.

    I think your legacy is a valuable one, you’ve provided a genuinely helpful insight into the UK’s modern military by which others will have to measure their efforts. You’re a tough act to follow. Good luck – don’t disappear completely because we’ll miss you.

  20. Hilary Windley on said:

    WOW – but really, from reading your blogs over the months/years I am not surprised by your honesty. Congratulations on recognising a problem (internally) and going to sort it, almost like you have been trained to do, but somehow it doesn’t always happen in ‘real life’, ‘home life’. Also big congratulations, on giving back a daddy to Lily and a husband to Theresa and a loveable master to Masha – These are not easy tasks; every day is a day that we learn something new about each other, so we are always on a learning curve.

    Wherever life takes you in your next chapter, I hope it brings you fulfilment and joy – You deserve it all. Thank you for your service to this country, I hope she treats you well in return. I am sure I can speak for everyone following your blogs – If anyone is able to offer assistance along the way – don’t be afraid to ask, it would be our own way of saying…. ‘Thank You’ – God bless you and your family ❤

  21. Sounds like you’re working through some important stuff. I hope things go even better for you now – take care, and enjoy the next phase of your life.

  22. pointycat on said:

    Best of luck with your future

  23. Dermot on said:

    Like so many others here, I wish you, Therese and Lily (& Mahsa) every success and happiness for the future. Your blog was a very real and personal insight into modern life in the services and I hope you stay blogging in some way. I’m no expert but I think confronting your recent challenges can be the start of overcoming them and a new chapter in your lives together.
    On a personal note, RAF Benson has a very strong bond for me – my wife and I had a great weekend there staying with friends in Aug 2005. Sadly, the weekend coincided with the sudden death of my nephew (aged 18) When I think back to that time, sitting in the garden of their house on base, drinking ale and looking at the starry night sky, it will always remind me of my nephew and our friends.
    Good luck to your sir in all you do.

  24. I wish you all the best in your new chosen life it won’t be easy. You are now in charge the people in civvie street won’t understand either but will be helpful if you let them. Don’t keep it bottled up you served your country and we all owe you a debt of gratitude. I only did national service again in the RAF but that service put me in good stead for the remaining part of my life. All power to your elbow.

  25. Thanks for a great blog as always. Big changes for you all – I really hope you find a job you love doing, wishing you all the best

  26. 25 years…! I’d say you’ve given plenty and it’s time to enjoy being master of you’re own destiny. Thank you sir for your service and all the best to you and your family. I suspect a bright future awaits.

  27. Yes, we all have to change at some point in our lives.
    All the very best to you for your future. During my time in
    the RAF I often felt that I would like my own freedom.
    Try to count to ten instead of blowing your top in times
    of frustration. You will succeed in the end.

  28. I have always found Kipling’s IF a very apt description of you in as you appear in your blog posts and tweets.

    Becoming the unwilling poster boy of our forces in theater probably hasn’t helped with things. (BBC / Telegraph / Twitter RT’s etc)

    I wish you a successful recovery. and ask one thing in return.
    “What are you going to call yourself after Christmas ?”

  29. Big Bro on said:

    Now THAT my little brother was one of the most difficult things that I have ever read and far more harrowing than your ‘adventures’ whilst Operational. I’m immensely proud to have you as a brother.

  30. Valerie McKinlay (JJ's mum) on said:

    Thank you for being so honest about your struggles since coming back from Afghanistan. A lot of service people go through this having been in a conflict zone. I know of people who are having problems with things that happened in NI over 30 years ago. Thank goodness there is the help nowadays. I recall in years gone by that guys were simply terrified of going to the Med Centre about emotional and mental struggles as it would have had a detrimental effect on your career. LMF = lack of moral fibre is what it was put down too. It is the brave man who seeks help and it certainly helps when you have supportive family and friends.

    I wish you luck in your new life but promise us all one thing – keep us posted with your observations and common sense in your new life outside the forces.

  31. Phil Townrow on said:

    Good luck in civvy street. I had 12 years in the mob with 2 tours at Brize. Left in 89 when there was a cull. I swapped uniforms for a British Airways one. Same job just no gate guard! I hope you find a job and settle down to cushy civvy life. All the very best to you and your family for the future.
    Regards Phil Townrow (Ex Cpl A Tech E)

  32. All the very best in the future. I can totally relate to how you’ve been feeling and the talking therapy type stuff will uncover all sorts – but it will get you back to being YOU. Good luck for a very contented family future

  33. I wish you all the very best in your new life. It was a real pleasure coming across you on twitter for the short time I was there. I truly enjoy reading your blog and (selfishly) hope you continue with it. You are good people and good people deserve good things x
    from @sarahhope71

  34. Caroline on said:

    Wow what a well written, honest and moving blog. You seem a thoroughly decent fella and whilst it will be tough you send as if you have he strength of character and the family to see you through this. Please keep blogging and tweeting . I love reading your thoughts!!

  35. helen on said:

    My husband left the RAF a few years back after a long and distinguished career. It was his choice- he PVR’d as he hated managing decline all the time. He got a super new job, a huge hike in salary, many new friends and a happier family: the best decision he ever made. I admire your honesty, courage, humour and blogging skills. With those tools in your knapsack you will thrive in the big wide world. Good luck and well done.

  36. Luke on said:

    Per Ardua ad Astra Airman, best of luck on civvy street. You’ll be great. Mental Health is like physical health, you’ll get better.

  37. Linda Green on said:

    Well done for being brave & open. I will miss your blogs but wish you every success in whatever you decide to do x

  38. Paul on said:

    Good luck to you. I left in 99 after 27 years and started my own business. I do miss the Service a little, but I would never go back to working for anyone else, the business is far more successful than I ever imagined, so life can go on well on the other side.

  39. gav the rigger on said:

    I got it too. Happy to finally go home for good but struggling to imagine not being in the mob in 6 months. Served 16 years with pride, great places and amazing people.
    Been stressful few months trying to plan 2 scenarios for the future, just pleased to have a clear path now.
    All the best fellow airman.

  40. Excellent that you can be open about your feelings, and the support your are getting to overcome frustration, anger, and depression. Online there are good resources too, and this free one is great http://www.clinical-depression.co.uk/depression-learning-path/ Have used it with several friends suffering from ‘mid-life and career’ issues. Good luck with whatever you choose to do. Keep blogging – you do it well – look forward to reading about your 1st Christmas outside the RAF. BTW, thanks for doing that job for us for the last 25 years – appreciated.

  41. A very moving blog which almost had me in tears. As you know my hubby left the RAF in March after 22 years, he knows he made the right decision but he still has ups & downs; lows & highs. You have a good wife & family so you’ll get through this phase of your life. You deserve some time to be your own boss & be able to live where you want; not to have to go on duty when there’s a special occasion at home. By December hubby will have been out 1 year, as having terminal leave he finished in Dec11. Please if you need any advice message me, either here on twitter or facebook.

    This will be a new chapter of your life & you’re going to love it !! Plenty of quality time to spend with Therese, Lily & Mahsa ♥♥♥

    I’m new to your blogs & will be sorry if you don’t continue with them. You might find carrying on a beneficial transition from military to civvy. Have you thought about writing a book on your military life?

    All the very best for your future xx

  42. This is a great blog post, very moving, thanks for all you’ve done for your country, I wish you all the best for the future, and continued success with your recovery.

    You make me proud to be British.

  43. I left the RAF after 29 Years Service in 2003 I have never regretted leaving I love my new life, but I will also never regret those wonderful years serving either, they were just fantastic.

  44. Laura A on said:

    Just like so many, I do hope you keep on writing. Maybe once you leave you will have more time to practice on different aspects of writing. I remember you once went to a writing course and it produced a couple of good blog entries.

    All the best luck with your life and family. Things will get better.

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