Keeley works here at Evolution Forces Families as our Admin Support and Customer Care Manager. She is a Mum of two boys and was an Army wife. Here is her story about her family’s Army journey, and their recent transition into civvy life….
My soldier joined the Army in 2000, aged 17. He was a Royal Engineer and a brick layer by trade. We met in December 2001 after he had completed his basic training. We got engaged 2 months later in February 2002, and married in July! A lot of people have commented to me time and time again on how quickly we got married, but we gelled so well from the day we met, we knew we were right for each other. My Dad always joked and said I was ‘marrying the Army’.
Our first posting was to Cambridge for 4 years. Being a young woman from Kent, I hated it. I hated being away from family and not knowing anyone and I chose to never get involved in the community side of things. I felt lost.
Following this, he was posted to Northern Ireland for 2 years, which I accompanied him to. I found this posting to be vastly different; we lived behind the wire, and security wise things were much tighter, so I felt a lot safer.
Cyprus was our next destination for 3 years. I know most military families dream of a posting to Cyprus, as we did, and yes it was great, but I personally felt that after a year I got a little fed up of the lifestyle. For me it felt like an extended holiday, but I just wanted to move on. From here we were posted to Germany and then finally to Brompton.
Having 2 sons, who are now aged 10 and 5, we were finding it increasingly difficult moving them around every 2 years. We started to feel a strong desire to take the kids out of the Army environment so they could be more settled, our eldest especially. The boys had become hugely affected by people coming and going in their lives so frequently. My husband also had prolapsed discs in his spine as well as compartment syndrome. With these factors in our minds, we decided to make the transition into civvy life and hopefully hit the ground running.
Hubby used learning credits to do courses and workshops in construction to prepare him for leaving the Army in December 2013. After leaving, he started by working for a brickwork contractor in Kent. However, he only got small contracts and the pay wasn’t great. We desperately wanted to settle and get a mortgage, so he got a job with a Kent College as their caretaker, and got paid £17k to do all of their maintenance work. He then got offered a job with a London Housing Association doing property maintenance, which was much more suited to his skillset. It’s been just over 2 years since he left the Army, and he is still using more of his learning credits through UKTrade to do more relevant courses in order to build up his skills and knowledge. His dream is to progress to becoming a construction surveyor.
As a family, we were more than happy to leave Army life behind for the sake of the children. We really love civvy life, as we have our own house, and the kids are in a stable school with stable friends and family close by. I always think that with some people, you could cut them and they would bleed green.…the army is literally in their blood. For us, it isn’t.