Written by: Patrick Breedon – The Pro Forum Community of Practice

Is there benefit in employing former military personnel?

There are always two sides to every coin and as an organisation we would like to share this with you when it comes to employing someone who is transitioning from the Defence Force to normal civilian life.

Pro Leaders Academy (https://proleaders.com.au) as an organisation that is an Australian Veteran Owned Business (https://www.avob.org.au/certified-businesses) and has shown our commitment in the Veterans Employment Program (https://www.veteransemployment.gov.au/…/commitment…) we wanted to provide the views of an ex-service member getting out and a manager engaging a service member getting out of the Military Service member.

I am Pat Breedon and have recently started work as trainer/facilitator with Pro Leaders Academy (https://proleaders.com.au). I am married to Louisa, and we have two beautiful children, Laurence (4) and Harriet (8 months). I have worked in the Australian Regular Army for the past 16 and plus years and made the decision to transition into civilian life in 2021.

After 16 years in the ARA, my family and I had decided it was time for something different. What the different thing was, we had no idea. We had been thinking about discharge for a couple of years before actually pulling the trigger however, we had been hesitant to do so as it never seemed like a good time. We had just had our second baby, bought a house, the COVID pandemic had just hit etc… this did not seem like a logical time to leave a secure job. In the end we left while Louisa was pregnant and would not be looking at going back to work again for a while, so the lesson learnt there is that there is no time like the present!

We had been posted to Gallipoli Barracks in Brisbane and ended up buying a house in the area, we were then posted unexpectedly (classic Defence) up to Townsville, we discussed and decided to give the Army one more chance as this posting would see a few changes for us, a new unit, a new rank and role in a new city we had never lived in before. If we weren’t feeling it after 12 months, then that would be our decision point to transition. So, you can probably guess what happened at the 12 month mark!

We made the decision to leave the army and become a civilian. There are many reasons for this decision, and it was not an easy one to make, however, I think it was the best choice for me and my family at the time. We wanted to live in Brisbane (near extended family) and in the house we had bought. We wanted to set a solid base for the kids so when they start school, we wouldn’t be moving them around every two years. I also want to be around for the kids, missing birthdays and other milestones does not interest me. So, for these reasons (and many more) it was time to call it quits.

I was fortunate enough to be in a position where I could conduct a lengthy transition, I had a flexible and supportive chain of command and enough Long Service Leave (LSL) to enjoy some important down time with the family (I say down time, but our second child was born on boxing day shortly after I began leave so there was no down time!). A downside to having all this time though is I would start to overthink what the future had in-store for us and If I would be able to support my family post defence life.

I was adamant that I was to secure employment before I put the paperwork in for discharge, however, I knew this would not be possible as I had no time to dedicate outside of army to look for new work. So, most of my transition activities occurred whilst on LSL. Out of all my concerns (of which there where many) the biggest was finding a good job, not just any job but one that was supportive, understanding and of course was going to provide appropriate remuneration. The unknown was causing me to lose sleep and question my decision every day I wasn’t parading at work.

I was fortunate to secure a job early in my transition with a start date agreed upon for later in the year to allow me time to decompress from army and enjoy some much-needed time off with the family. For this I am extremely grateful. Having a job lined up lifted a very large and very heavy weight off my shoulders. The extra time also allowed me to better prepare myself for transition and for the new role, keeping in communication with the new workplace and getting the training required made the starting day seem less daunting. I knew the specific training requirements I needed to complete and was able to have this paid for by defence.

I became a Mr on 08 September 2022 and am feeling great! I will be conducting reserve work when I can, and my new workplace is very supportive of this. I think it is important to maintain contact with defence as I know too many mates who have decided to cut it all away and certainly struggle.

My transition story has been one of success, I will put this down to a few important details. Communicate! Talk with your family, your chain of command and engage with the transitions cell. Transition, and all the things that come with it should not be done alone. Give yourself time (if possible), you need to have a period of rest between leaving defence and starting a whole new life (not just a new job). If I didn’t take the time that I did, I genuinely do not think I would be in the head space I am right now. And lastly, there is never a perfect time, if you are thinking about it then you have reached the end, I have always made a point that I wanted to leave army on good terms. If I had left it any longer, I would have been leaving disgruntled and in a rush.

Moral of the story. Spend time and effort on what is next, having a job to go to post transition was one of the key elements of my transition plan and gave me peace of mind knowing that my family will be supported and that everything else is trivial.

I am very grateful to my transition coach who was able to use her networks and got me an interview with Pro Leaders Academy. Both Phil and Brett are ex-servicemen and understand what it’s like. Having this understanding and support from my new workplace was amazing and confirmed early on that this is the kind of place I want to work. As mentioned, Pro Leaders is supportive of my reserve service and are flexible to allow me the time to continue service to the nation.

 

Written by: Brett Lyndon – The Pro Forum Community of Practice

Hiring a former Defence member

Working in a management position for a Registered Training Organisation (RTO), the decision was made late in 2021 to hire an additional trainer to help support our current business commitments. Finding a suitably qualified and experienced trainer in the current employment landscape is difficult.

After holding interviews and unsuccessfully trialling other candidates it was decided that we could consider a former military member with experience in delivering training. This approach has been a boon for our business.

Through a chance meeting with a Defence transition officer, we were put in touch with Pat. Pat was an Army Warrant Officer who had spent time as an instructor at Warrant Officer and Non-Commissioned Officer (WONCO) Academy. Pat was in the process of discharging from Defence to become a civilian and spend more time at home with his young family.

We arranged an interview with Pat and discussed options for employment and training. We discussed the fact that he would need to formalise his training experience by acquiring his Cert IV in training and Assessment (TAE 40116) which could be subsidised through the defence transition scheme. As an RTO, we allowed him to attend our qualification courses for free in his own time (He was on long service leave) before his employment began and would issue him with his qualifications once his employment started.

Employing Pat was not an overnight process. It took 4 months from that first incidental conversation until Pat started work in July. Good communication, a workable and agreeable plan and flexibility on all sides have made this work. There were things that Pat couldn’t do at certain times because of interviews, appointments, or his relocation move from Townsville to Brisbane, so that meant negotiation and flexibility on our part to get him to the right courses at the right times. It worked in the end.

Even though Pat had come into the office on a few occasions for training or small work tasks, when he started work with us in July, I think it would be safe to say there was probably a bit of culture shock there. Timings and workplace interactions are more relaxed, and the dress standards are much more relaxed. He even wore a civilian polo shirt 1 day a couple of weeks ago instead of the corporate wardrobe!

Pat is adapting nicely to civilian employment and is learning his new role and responsibilities as well as we could hope for. (Though he still needs to replace some of the military jargon when interacting with civilian clients.)

We have found that having a former defence member in our team is a bonus that we struggled to find in other areas. Pat has a can-do attitude and just gets on with whatever task he is allocated. He is happy to work with minimal supervision, but also works well as part of a team. He accepts responsibility for his work and asks questions whenever he is unsure of something. His defence background provides a self-discipline that is not readily found in other employees, government or civilian.

Pat plans to retain his connection to the ADF through reserve service and we are happy to work with him to make this possible. Again, this will be a matter of communication, negotiation, planning and flexibility to make it happen.

We are happy to have Pat on board and believe he is an asset to our company.

 

NOTE: The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter, and specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances. The content must not be relied upon as legal, technical, financial or other professional advice.