It is a truism that military life is a cosseted environment. If you want it to be your whole life can be supplied by the military.
You can, in fact, spend the whole of your life on base. Your house. The base shop. The school on base. The messes. The education centre, the dental centre, the doctors. The gym. Everything you could possibly ever need is inside the fence. On tap. For free (or at least at a very much reduced cost).
Unless you want to, your whole life can be spent behind the wire. Leaving you in a nice safe, warm, fuzzy environment with like-minded people who share a job, an employer, a lifestyle similar to yours.
But one day that has to end. Like death and taxes, it’s a certainty that one day you will cease to be in the military and you will have to leave that environment. And when you leave it, you literally leave it behind. You have to leave the safety of the wire and head out into the real world…on your own.
You have to find your own house, a job, a doctor…everything at ‘normal people’ have to do, but you have to do it all at the same time and all involve each other. For a group of people who have had their whole life easily mapped and provided for them, this is a really difficult thing to do.
Take, for instance, getting a house. We have a small deposit that would just about make 10% of the purchase price of a house where we want to live. But because we are both leaving the forces, we will have a much much larger amount of cash available in the future. But these funds don’t come through until about a month after you have left the military, so it means that the full amount available to us won’t be ready until the middle of January at least. Meaning that it makes sense NOT to try and fight for a mortgage (that a lender probably wouldn’t give to us based on our initially meagre (but survivable on) pensions from the service that similarly start a month after our discharge), but instead to wait until we have a huge deposit and then apply for a smaller mortgage.
But this leaves the problem of where to live. Our entitlement to a house runs out three months after our discharge…meaning that yeah, we could wait in the married quarter for the cash, but then be really up against it to find a house and have the purchase go through in time before we are quite literally made homeless.
So we have made up our minds to rent for 6 mons or so, just to tide us over whilst we relocate to our preferred area and then have a base to buy the house we want with a bit more leisure and leeway.
But this is a bit of a nightmare itself. To rent anywhere decent you really need to be employed, rather than ‘between jobs’ but to get a job you really need to have a base for those jobs, and yet to get a base for the jobs you need to be employed.
A viscous circle that has lead to a lot of phone calls to and from agents, and some…well not actual lies…or even real untruths…just extensions of the truth. Like saying that although we are relocating, I will be continued to be paid by the MoD until next year (true…I will be on my terminal leave until my discharge date of 11th Dec, and my last payday should be 31st December)…
This all just adds to the stress. The future is uncertain enough, but when you have nothing certain…no home, no work, an income of 1/3 of what you previously had…it is just too much. All coming at the same time means that each one of the most stressful things that can happen in your life…all come together at the same time. It means that tempers fray. Patience runs short. You wake up at night not knowing if you ARE going to have somewhere to live…or what you are actually going to do for work.
And this makes you tired. It makes you more testy and tetchy and you argue of little things and you can’t enjoy anything…and you stress and stress and stress. And everything is just so difficult you feel like running away and hiding, even though you know you can’t.