Is it selfish to volunteer for a Tour?

#1
I'm an ex-regular officer now joining the TA, aware that volunteering for a tour has become relatively common. Thinking medium term I'll probably change careers in the next 12 - 18 months and would certainly consider volunteering for a tour between jobs.

My question is "How did / do you reconcile volunteering with family?"

For me while in the regulars it wasn't really an issue. I was skiing when I got the call for TELIC. I can honestly say, and I know this is pretty sad, it was one of the happiest days of my life. I was f ucking overjoyed - My mates had all been, and I hadn't.

Feigning a mature attitude I came out with all the good calls I'll be with the Jocks I've spent the last year with, bloody good regiment, more chance of getting hit by a bus.....

And ultimately, I had the great get out clause of Well, I've got to go.

Since then I've become a lot less casual about it. After three mates were killed in Afghanistan and Iraq I properly realised that it isn't a game.

When I went to Sandhurst in 2000 it was different. I could honestly say to friends and family that they needn't worry. Back then a six month tour involving eight pipe bombs and a malfunctioning RIRA Mk 15 was considered pretty warry. Strange, eh?

Being a bit older and maturer now, and realising that Afghanistan and Iraq are "playing for keeps" I realise the stress that you put your wife / girlfriend / children under, for months at a time.

I still want to go, motivated partly I admit by a crude sense of adventure, but I know that choosing to go is, in a way, incredibly selfish.

After all, you don't have to go - you could just stay with your family and take your chances crossing roads, and save them the worry. Most of us don't care passionately one way or another about the political reasoning behind Afghan / Iraq. And, as has been commented extensively on ARRSE, most guys aren't going as formed units, serving with mates they can't afford to let down.

So if I - a single 20 something - am wrangling with it, how did you - with wife, girlfriend, children reason with it, and get them onside?

Charlie
 
#3
Difficult one got the brown envelope wife not happy about it ,but,had to go
thought about voluntering since ,but,basically incrediblely selfish I swan off to soldier for nine months and she is left running home child career and watching tv and fearing.If I have to go I will but ,voluntering ,unless you want to start paying private security wages no.
 
#4
As a singly then all you have to think about is yourself, so you can go off on an 'adventure' without a care in the world.

If however you have a family then I can not honestly see how you could square volunteering to go, with the impact that it has at home. When I was away every time a coallition casualty was announced my wife would be glued to the news until further details came out which meant that it couldn't have been me. Compared to that being left by herself with the kids for 6 to 9 months was a relatively (note relatively) minor hardship.

It also made me realise just how bloody awful it must be to be regular with a family and to get a tour at least every every 2 or 3 years. I doff my cap to them for sticking with that year in, year out.

She didn't tell me about how worried she had been until I had been back for a few months and I would never want to put her through that if I could avoid it. Having said that despite her urging me to leave I am still in some 3 years later, mainly due to the fact that I believe serving in the TA is something which is worthwhile and she accepts that and the threat of compulsory mobilisation that goes with it.
 
#6
It's not a question that has a single answer. It depends entirely on your personal circumstances, motivation and the attitude of your family/employer.

That said - Family, Work, TA. In that order. And that is the senior CoC view as well as mine.

Other factors are the nature of the Op - enduring ops in peacetime are far harder to justify to the other half than tackling a real threat to the UK for instance.

I'd say if in doubt, don't. There will always be another opportunity along in six months and if you are really needed you'll be called up anyway.
 
#8
IDONTNEEDAHAIRCUT said:
It also made me realise just how bloody awful it must be to be regular with a family and to get a tour at least every every 2 or 3 years. I doff my cap to them for sticking with that year in, year out.

She didn't tell me about how worried she had been until I had been back for a few months and I would never want to put her through that if I could avoid it. Having said that despite her urging me to leave I am still in some 3 years later, mainly due to the fact that I believe serving in the TA is something which is worthwhile and she accepts that and the threat of compulsory mobilisation that goes with it.
Such a honest reply, I'd hope your echoing a lot of normal TA soldiers views. I doff my cap to what you and others have done.
 
#9
One_of_the_strange said:
That said - Family, Work, TA. In that order. And that is the senior CoC view as well as mine.
Sadly, OOTS, I'm afraid that you'll find a creeping but strong shift away from this much quoted principle - specifically within the CoC. The regulars have a phrase which is now gaining in useage (started life on a posting preference proforma) and which was recently used at a senior conference as being 'applicable' to the new TA. It is:

'The needs of the Army must come first: those of officers, soldiers and their families come a close second. That said, due consideration is given to the preferences of each individual officer and soldier.”

Draw your own conclusions.
 
#10
COS1SigBde said:
One_of_the_strange said:
That said - Family, Work, TA. In that order. And that is the senior CoC view as well as mine.
Sadly, OOTS, I'm afraid that you'll find a creeping but strong shift away from this much quoted principle - specifically within the CoC. The regulars have a phrase which is now gaining in useage (started life on a posting preference proforma) and which was recently used at a senior conference as being 'applicable' to the new TA. It is:

'The needs of the Army must come first: those of officers, soldiers and their families come a close second. That said, due consideration is given to the preferences of each individual officer and soldier.”

Draw your own conclusions.
Presumably these are the same intellectual giants who 5 minutes later announce that we need a study into why recruitment and retention rates are so poor. If the CoC force the TA soldier to choose between their family/career and the TA the results will be very, very predictable.
 
#11
You take the Queens shilling.
Put up or feck off.
Can't get everything to work?
Welcome to civvy street

Second thought to add, YOU VOLUNTEERED
 
#12
Darthspud said:
You take the Queens shilling.
Put up or feck off.
Can't get everything to work?
Welcome to civvy street

Second thought to add, YOU VOLUNTEERED
Charlie_cong's original post was a well considered question and one that deserved to be answered fully. It was not a question about compulsory mobilisation, but about volunteering.

Nobody who has responded to the thread so far has said that they would try to avoid being compulsory mobilised, what they have been saying is that volunteering to go is not a good idea for those with families.

I would be interested in knowing what your situation is as on the face of it you sound like someone who has no responsibilities and thinks that it is macho to do tours and that anyone who feels otherwise is a wimp. Probably similar to a SNCO in an old unit of mine who considered anyone who didn't want to be an infanteer to be less of a man than him.

Edited to remove an inflamatory remark !
 
#13
polar said:
I'd hope your echoing a lot of normal TA soldiers views.
Echoing a lot of older, married, TA soldiers at any rate.

Whilst recognising that a message board such as this is not the best way to have an informed debate as things can be misunderstood, we seem to be polarising into two groups.

On the one hand there are those such as myself, who see TA (or any form of reserve service) as something that provides value and are available if required. On the other we have those who believe that the TA is all about going on ops and basically being a regular soldier for 6 months out of every 12. My gut instinct is that this is a generational thing and from scanning through fluffy bunnys poll that would seem to be correct.
 
#16
Charlie_Cong said:
I'm an ex-regular officer now joining the TA, aware that volunteering for a tour has become relatively common. Thinking medium term I'll probably change careers in the next 12 - 18 months and would certainly consider volunteering for a tour between jobs.

My question is "How did / do you reconcile volunteering with family?"

For me while in the regulars it wasn't really an issue. I was skiing when I got the call for TELIC. I can honestly say, and I know this is pretty sad, it was one of the happiest days of my life. I was f ucking overjoyed - My mates had all been, and I hadn't.

Feigning a mature attitude I came out with all the good calls I'll be with the Jocks I've spent the last year with, bloody good regiment, more chance of getting hit by a bus.....

And ultimately, I had the great get out clause of Well, I've got to go.

Since then I've become a lot less casual about it. After three mates were killed in Afghanistan and Iraq I properly realised that it isn't a game.

When I went to Sandhurst in 2000 it was different. I could honestly say to friends and family that they needn't worry. Back then a six month tour involving eight pipe bombs and a malfunctioning RIRA Mk 15 was considered pretty warry. Strange, eh?

Being a bit older and maturer now, and realising that Afghanistan and Iraq are "playing for keeps" I realise the stress that you put your wife / girlfriend / children under, for months at a time.

I still want to go, motivated partly I admit by a crude sense of adventure, but I know that choosing to go is, in a way, incredibly selfish.

After all, you don't have to go - you could just stay with your family and take your chances crossing roads, and save them the worry. Most of us don't care passionately one way or another about the political reasoning behind Afghan / Iraq. And, as has been commented extensively on ARRSE, most guys aren't going as formed units, serving with mates they can't afford to let down.

So if I - a single 20 something - am wrangling with it, how did you - with wife, girlfriend, children reason with it, and get them onside?

Charlie
Go, you will regret it if you don't.
 
#18
if you arent concerned about the guilt, go to your PSAO and say "I am willing to be compusalrily mobilised.". That way your job status is protected under law and you can then say to your family "Its compulsary, i dont have a choice.". but how would you feel saying that to your nearest and dearest knowing you volounteered? but if you dont volounteer the experiance provided by ex regs makes you a valuable asset to the TA in any case, and thus your joining the TA is not pointless.
 
#20
yater_spoon said:
What about those who are exempt from mobilisation such as students, and reserved occupations who make up a substantial proportion of TA?

I don't think this is the case at all.

Students are not exempt, unless serving in a Group B (OTC) post.

In general terms, fire officers should not normally serve in the Reserve Forces. Police officers can at their commander's discretion, and a large number do - and have been mobilised. Ditto NHS workers (who make up a large chunk of DMS).