In my last post, I talked about The Whitlams, one of my favourite bands. I was lucky enough to see them at a private concert when I worked and lived at The Australian Defence Force Academy.
Read the post here.
I was in the Army in 2005 and 2006. Short stint, I know. I was medically discharged at the end of 2006, and I’ve attended a steady stream of medical appointments ever since. Lately, I’ve been struggling emotionally because I’ve had to rehash a lot of the negativity from my military career. It’s tough not to see it as an entirely negative experience. In fact, for a lot of years I have.
But because it’s my responsibility to determine how I react to things, and because I don’t want to spend the rest of my life resenting something I went through when I was 20, I thought it best to focus on some of the good things. So today, I’m going to tell you about the 3 best experiences I had while I was in the Army.
Fast Water Insertions.
Imagine riding in a rubber speed boat, the kind with wide sides you can sit on. Now, imagine laying face down on the side of the boat while it speeds along at 20 knots. Then, someone slaps you on the back, you roll off the side of the boat and bounce across the water like a pebble that’s been skimmed across a lake.
Yes… I rolled off the side of a speed boat, more than once, and survived to tell the tale.
In every military movie ever made, there’s always an obstacle course scene where the soldiers are dragging themselves up over walls, beneath barbed wire and through the mud. What they don’t show is when you return to your accommodation and get hosed off by the fire hose before you’re allowed inside, so as to not trudge mud throughout your house.
Yes… I experienced the quintessential military training movie scene and it was as fun as it looks.
ANZAC Day at the Australian War Memorial.
Aussies, you know this. For anyone else, ANZAC stands for The Australian and New Zealand Army Corps. On ANZAC day every year, we remember all of the men and women we have lost through military service in all wars.
ANZAC Day occurs on the 25th of April. This date was chosen in remembrance of our greatest number of casualties in a single day in the history of the Australian and New Zealand military. On 25th April 1915, our soldiers landed on a beach in Gallipoli, Turkey. 25,000 of those men didn’t come home.
As a soldier, one of the proudest days in my career was donning the uniform of the Australian Regular Army, sitting a slouch hat atop my head, and attending the Dawn Service at The Australian War Memorial in Canberra. In my first year, I recall a Padre telling a story about his visit to the beaches at Gallipoli. While I could never tell it with such passion and emotion in this email, I’ll do my best.
While strolling along the beach, the Padre saw an elderly man and they started talking. The man had tears rolling down his face, so the Padre asked if he was ok. The man’s response:
“I’ve just spent the last hour walking up and down every inch of this beach. My uncle was killed on this beach in 1915, and now I know I have walked upon the spot where he died. I’ve spent my entire life working towards this moment. I had to do this before I died”.
As the Padre recalled the story, I felt tears running down my own face and a lump in my throat. Then I turned to look at the toughest man I knew, my sergeant. He had completed tours in East Timor and Afghanistan, and sported scars on his head from shrapnel wounds incurred during the explosion of an improvised explosive device. This man, tough as nails, has tears running down his face too.
I’ll never forget that experience, and one day, I will also walk the length of the beach at Gallipoli to remember the men who gave their lives to give me the freedom I have as an Australian today.
Looking back to move forward.
When I was in the Army, I had to do a lot of things I didn’t really want to do. I’ve spent a large part of the last 12 years believing the military continued to control much of my life. In reality, they have and will continue to play a minor part in my life. When I’m looking at it logically, I have far more power than they will ever have in my life. The freedom I now feel through a simple mindset change is empowering and overwhelming.
For the last 6 months, I have made a commitment to only do the things that serve me or the people who matter to me. I say 6 months, but in reality, it’s been something I’ve subconsciously working towards my entire adult life.
You don’t need to take that long. Instead, if you haven’t got it yet, download The Stress-Free Success Toolkit below, trek through the worksheets, and start creating your own freedom today.