Paula: After serving 18 years in the Australian Regular Army, 2 corps, 2 deployments and many intra and inter state moves, Paula transitioned to the Army Reserves in Sep 2012.
Paula transitioned to the Reserves as a means to create a young family balance, as well as, providing herself an option to continue her military career, as well as, experience corporate sector employment. Paula transitioned out in Victoria however now resides in Perth, WA with her husband Eddie and two children: Alicia 9 and Andrew 6 years old.
Since I was 16 years old, it was my vision to join the military, to follow my grand fathers footsteps. I was lucky enough to complete work experience at HMAS Cerberus when I was in Year 10; and from that experience I was certain to join the military.
After completing my year 12 education in 1995, I enlisted into the Australian Regular Army (ARA) on 6 Feb 1996. I was corps allocated to Royal Australian Ordnance Corps as a clerk administrator; and later commissioned as a General Service Officer into the Royal Australian Army Medical Corps.
My transfer over to the Medical corps has proven to be everything that I hoped it be, including opening my opportunities up for both corporate and military employment opportunities. Although, I wasn’t ready to move out of the ARA, I can honestly say it has been a really positive and rewarding experience from so many perspectives. These include: finishing my education – Masters degree in Management (major HRM) finishing my Diploma in OHS, time with my children, experiencing employment in the health insurance sector, establishing new career goals that are realistic with a young family, and involving myself in volunteer opportunities with my kids school and sporting associations.
The transition from ARA to Reserves, was not easy but I did it, particularly in the lead up to the transition date. I used my final 12 months of full time service to finalise my outstanding service related medical ailments (ankle surgery) and rehabilitate, as well as, commence my civilian employment for Defence Health Ltd on a part-time basis whilst exercising the remainder of my LSL in 2012.
The ARA gave me a massive financial kick start to life, values and morals that are sort after in any working environment, as well as, an excellent workforce grounding which has proven to be invaluable, and not to forget I met my amazing husband Eddie who has always been there for me and was a particularly extremely supportive during my transition.
In my civilian employment capacity as the Defence Health Regional Rep I have a thorough appreciation of Defence and their Families and what it is that this unique organization environment requires. More so, I can now juggle my Army Reserve employment with my Defence Health role in such a flexible manner. It truly is great.
My tips for those that are planning to move on from the permanent forces:
PLAN PLAN PLAN
1. Look at your finances and work out if you need to re-educate if you are changing career paths. Having a job to go is always a stable option, but if you need to re-educate maybe you need to structure your transition date appropriately.
2. Where do you plan on living? Is it short term or long term? Use your discharge removal wisely – work this through with your family – your transition affects everyone in your family.
3. Look at the Support Services initiatives, such as DVA and VVCS. Research online, or go to regional military events to stay in touch with all the support services available to you as there is so much available post military service. Connect with corps associations, connect with all the support organisations online. There are so many comprehensive sites and blogs to aid your transition and decisions making processes that you undertake.
4. Compromise with yourself on your plan. There is no right or wrong plan, but you have to set realistic goals (financially, family and employment).
5. Keep in touch with your mates. Your military mates are the foundation to your character and you will never lose this emotional connection – so stay in touch.
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