The Lone Voice
Just this week, I heard for the first time a radio advert that stood out and caught my attention. This is pretty rare. SSAFA, formerly the Soldiers,
Sailors, Airmen and Families Association, is running adverts about the loneliness that afflicts many veterans.
There’s argument as to whether this is the most pressing concern about veterans that need to be addressed; mental health issues, homelessness and
so on are also high on the agenda, but it’s welcome nonetheless.
Loneliness is a fundamental part of leaving the Services. One day you are surrounded by your peers to the point that you go to the cinema for some solitude, the next you are out there, alone. If you are lucky, you have a support network of family, and of friends who have already left. If you are less lucky, it’s you and your wits.
At the end of the First and Second World Wars, and into the ‘50s, everyone knew service personnel or ex-personnel. These days, we are a rarer commodity. The standards that we were used to don’t necessarily exist in civilian life. You have moments of being the lone voice, of seeing things
differently and of having a different moral code. You can be surrounded by people, yet lonely.
Fortunately, with technology comes networking. Individuals and organisations are available at a keystroke to remind you that you are right
to be the lone voice sometimes. Connections through organisations such as Veterans Network are simple and worthwhile.
These networks only work through participation, and it’s worth recalling that if you are going through something now, someone went through almost the same before. Likewise, you’ll be the person to guide and reassure in the future – if you choose to do so.
Just now, I am helping and guiding a few start-up, Veteran-owned businesses as they find their feet. It is the most satisfying thing imaginable to
mentor a business that aspires to be owned, run and staffed by ex-service personnel. Being from the forces makes for being a good entrepreneur;
section commanders make tougher, more pressured decisions – and more quickly – than FTSE100 CEOs. There are any number of fledgling businesses out there founded by people leaving the Services. Many of them will remain ‘one man bands’, many will want nothing more. Some will become household names.
By joining in, banding together, acknowledging and targeting your expertise you can make others feel that comradeship, in business life and home life. You’ll enable people to be alone, but not lonely. You’ll help them be successful, which – of course – makes you successful. But you have to get
involved, to push forward, always a little further.
Written by fellow Veteran Guy Dorrell