Firstly, thank you for posting this. I am sure there are plenty of people that will come to read this post with similar questions to you, and I know that it wouldn’t have been easy to write this.; so for them, thank you. The following points I will convey are derived from my 12 years’ service in the Australian Military, multiply overseas deployments, and hundreds of soldiers, seaman and air-men and women’s welfare managed under my command.
I would like to begin by saying that regardless of role, trade or Service, any position you wish you enlist or be appointed to in the military is fraught with minimal luxuries and hardships aplenty. As one of my favourite quotes reads ‘it must be remembered that the oath to serve our country as a soldier does not include a contract for the normal luxuries and comforts enjoyed by our society. On the contrary, it implies hardship, loyalty and devotion to duty regardless of rank. The act of sacrifice is ‘an act of giving up something valued for the sake of something else regarded as more important or worthy’. Despite this being aimed towards Army, throughout my various postings and deployments I worked side by side with members from all services, as we endured similar struggles of Service life.
That being said, I would ask you to initially question if this is the right time in your life for military service? I’m certainly not saying give up on your dreams, quite the contrary. I implore everyone to experience what it takes to develop yourself into someone fit to defend our country’s interests, and I wholeheartedly believe it makes them better members of the civilian workforce once they choose to move on. I also applaud your commitment to forecast your military intentions this far out and develop an action plan to assist you in your endeavours, as this quality alone is highly regarded in Defence and would put you in good stead to excel in any role you chose to pursue. My only reservation would be that you may be rushing into this, in turn putting unnecessary pressure on yourself to perform and succeed. During my time I have found that personnel with a few years’ experience within the civilian employment market post-secondary schooling make far better Defence members, only due to the skills you can’t generally obtain at school; such as initiative, integrity, adaptability, courage, compassion, respect, and teamwork. I ask that you consider if rushing into this is the best option for you, and if you might not be better placed having a few years of adult work behind you in order to succeed without the potential chance of relapse.
Although if you do chose to pursue your original course of action, you have two choices; provide complete transparency and allow DFR to decide whether you are fit for military service, or not disclose your past and continue to self-manage – if successful. Throughout my experience, I have found that people that choose the latter option eventually experience a relapse during their service, plagued with the feelings of inadequacy and burden on their colleagues, as they try and mask their issues bubbling below the surface. Military service removes you from you comfort-zone, support network, and familiar surroundings. The training is arduous, postings are frequent and remote, and deployments are riddled with uncertainty and perilous risk. If and when you choose to commit to this, I wish you to do so when you are ready and with your eyes fully open.
I wish you the sincerest of fortune with your career endeavours, and on your journey back to good mental health and wellbeing.
All the best.