Being a Reservist – it can change your life!

British Armed Forces reservists play a vital role in the nation’s defence.  They
also benefit from a unique experience that develops skills and opens up exciting new possibilities.  In this blog, Fujitsu’s Hannah Baugh explains more about her experience as an RAF reservist.
Hannah

 
I must admit, I don’t even know what
first drew me to it, but I remember thinking when I was a young girl “I’d love to be in the RAF”.  I never thought much more of it, and actually joining up seemed like an impossibility.

Instead I pursued another dream – to develop a career in IT.  It was only when I joined the Defence and National Security team at Fujitsu, I found out a lot more about the RAF Reserves.

 

Taking the first step

I’d never seriously contemplated joining the reserves before – I was aware it required a minimum level of fitness which I knew I didn’t have.  I’d been overweight for as long as I could remember and physical activity had never been part of my life.

But with the thought of the RAF Reserves at the back of my mind, I decided there was no excuse for being overweight.  I succeeded in losing 75lb and keeping it off – but despite this success, I still couldn’t really believe that I could join the Reserves myself.

Until one day after I’d started running & weight training to aid my weight loss, when I realised – the only thing stopping me was me.  Crazy!

Committed to becoming a Reservist

After this realisation, I started looking into the RAF Reserves more seriously and did a lot of research online.  I spoke to my husband about it – he was more than supportive and encouraged me to follow something I’d never thought possible.

By this stage I was 100% committed – my first time taking the Airman Selection Test saw me fail by one mark, but this only gave me more motivation to try it again, passing with more than I needed for the ICT trade.  The process was in full swing!

Going on to pass my pre-joining fitness test was the best feeling ever;then getting the email with joining instructions to commence my training, over a year after first applying, felt surreal.  It was all I could talk about, and I was so excited to get started that the month beforehand really dragged.

Training for the first time

On the first day of training, arriving at the Squadron & meeting the other recruits, it really hit home.  I was here, it was happening, and there was no reason I couldn’t achieve my dream.

The first weekend was spent getting us kitted out, familiar with our surroundings and getting to grips with the adjustment between civilian and military life. It really was a different ball game yet strangely familiar after just a few days.

After over 35,000 steps and 8 hours sleep on the June training weekend, it been the most intense yet, not only did we get lots of drill practise, we also had a fitness test and circuits session in the gym; I earned my dinner that evening!

I may be aching but I am thoroughly enjoying the experience. Basic training consists of 2 weeks at an RAF base, training alongside Regulars before passing out, however, we are required to complete 4 training weekends beforehand to give us an idea of what to expect. Once training is complete, we officially join our trade flight and begin working alongside other Reservists.

Reservist training – a shared experience of achievement

One of my favourite things about being a reservist at this early stage is the notable camaraderie between everyone in the squadron, there really is a true team spirit.  This is similar to how I feel in my day job, which is very reassuring.

There are a small number of us in the flight and even after the first weekend together, there was a notable bond between us and we were all set on helping each other out wherever we could.

The most challenging element for me is Drill, even more so when you get back to civilian life and still feel like you need to march everywhere and call out your step as you go! The most important thing to remember about drill is to not think about it too much, which is easier said than done…

During the  second weekend of training, we spent a good 2 hours on the drill square with the sun beating down on us which only made things more challenging when it came to standing to attention for extended periods of time. During the third weekend, the flight I belong to were getting more confident and it reflected back to the drill instructor as we passed our drill test; the sound of 9 pairs of boots marching in sync is awesome!

I certainly see the importance of drill when it comes to following instruction and knowing that the Drill Sergeant had confidence in our ability to follow commands.

I’m really looking forward to taking part in the Pass Out parade (assuming everything goes well!) and increasing the number of others I get to march with.  I really can’t wait for my husband and my parents to see me in my Number 1 uniform at the parade, It will be an amazing sense of achievement and I definitely feel like I’ve earned my spot in the Reserves.

What I’ve learned

Apart from learning to control my impulsive talking and singing, I have learnt that putting the effort in and working hard reaps rewards. I’ve always been taught to try your best at everything you set your mind to so putting in 100% is a moral I stand by; this reflects in all aspects on my life both personally and professionally.

If you’re thinking about becoming a Reservist yourself, there are no reasons not go for it – not only will you get a unique experience, you will challenge yourself, become part of something big and truly appreciate the power of team work. There is a huge sense of adventure alongside your usual routine and day job.

If you think you can, you’re right!

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