Mark Ormrod Thoughtful Credit Mark Ormrod
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Would you let your kids join the military?

Veteran Mark Ormrod gives his advice and tips to anyone with ambitions to join the armed forces.

Mark Ormrod Thoughtful Credit Mark Ormrod

A former Royal Marines Commando who, after being injured in Afghanistan in 2007, became the UK's first triple amputee from the conflict, is taking to TikTok and Instagram to give advice to anyone who is considering joining the armed forces. 

Mark Ormrod is now an entrepreneur, father of three and husband who is answering questions from his followers via social media, using his armed forces experience to encourage and inspire others who are hoping to have a career in the armed forces, saying: 

"With every negative, there's always a positive, you just have to look harder for it." 

He often gets asked questions like what he saw when he died and was then brought back to life, how tall is he (to which he responds "depends what I’m doing and what legs I’m wearing") and whether the explosion, which left him as a triple amputee, "hurt his dangly bits".

Mark, who was awarded an MBE "for services to the Royal Marines and Veterans" by Her Majesty The Queen in 2020, says no question can embarrass him or hurt his feelings. He is an open book with so much life experience and wisdom to share. 

One question that caught his attention was posed by user @andybeeapy who asked whether he would advise a child of his to join the armed forces?

Speaking with Forces News about the question and his response on TikTok and Instagram, Mark said: 

"When that question was posed to me, I just thought, that's actually something I've not really thought about. 

"The way I live my life now, goal setting, planning and all that lot, I could have flown through the military up the ranks if I took it a bit more seriously when I first went in. 

"Just give them that kind of advice to take it seriously, have a plan and do your best to stick to that plan."

Watch: Mark gives advice to the parents of those wishing to join the armed forces.

The Royal Marines Commando veteran has three children who, he says, have no intention of joining the armed forces. His oldest daughter is succeeding in the beauty industry while his son dreams of becoming a footballer, something Mark believes he is talented enough to achieve. Meanwhile, the veteran sees a career on TV or radio for his youngest daughter, saying: 

"I think the little one, she's going to be doing something on the TV or the radio. 

"She's got one of those personalities - she's sassy."

Would Mark Advise His Children To Join The Armed Forces? 

Mark lost both his legs above the knee and his right arm above the elbow when he stood on an improvised explosive device on Christmas Eve in 2007 while on a routine patrol in the Helmand Province of Afghanistan. Speaking of the incident Mark said: 

"I died in the back of that helicopter and so I know how quick things can change and how quick it can all be over." 

Therefore, it might surprise some to discover that Mark would support his children if they did want to have a career in the armed forces. 

Mark Ormrod Afghanistan Credit Mark Ormrod
Mark Ormrod in Afghanistan (Picture: Mark Ormrod).

The brutal reality of his devastating, career-ending injuries and the gruelling hard work he put into recovery has not put him off the idea of a military career for his children. However, his answer was not as straightforward as that, as he said: 

"I actually would advise a child of mine or support a child of mine to join the armed forces. 

"However, I would do the best job that I could to guide them and steer them into making it work for them." 

What Mark means by this is that he would advise anyone who dreams of joining the armed forces to have a plan and want to do more than just, as he says, "blow up tanks or shoot someone at a 1,000 metres." He does not sugarcoat his advice, the reality as he sees it is that being a sniper is not going to get you to be the CEO of Barclays Bank when you transition to civvy street. 

Watch: "Being a sniper isn't going to get you to be the CEO of Barclays Bank when you leave".

What Do You Want Out Of Your Career? 

The veteran advocates having a clear idea of what you want to achieve when you join up. There are many opportunities in the military depending on what you want to do or which branch you want to go into. You can gain educational qualifications, travel the world, represent your regiment by playing a sport you are passionate about and as Mark says: 

"You can create friendships and bonds that last a lifetime and you get the opportunity, and some would say the honour, to represent your country by wearing a uniform." 

When Mark was a teenager, all he wanted was to join the Royal Marines and by the time he was 18 he was fully qualified and trained. For him, getting off civvy street and into his military career early was of great importance. He did not want to go to parties with his school friends or go travelling because, in his mind, if he did not experience it, he could not miss it. 

However, he advises anyone joining the armed forces to take a close look at their own family situation before joining too young, saying: 

"You might be caring for your granny when you're 18 and she might pass at 23 and then there's your opportunity. 

"Everyone is different." 

Mark Ormrod Walker Rig Credit Mark Ormrod
Less than six months after the life changing explosion, Mark Ormrod walks unaided to receive his Op Herrick 7 campaign medal (Picture: Crown Copyright/ LA(PHOT) Steve Johncock).

Mark says if he could turn back the hands of time, he would start his military career with a clear plan and set goals. He admits that he spent the first five years of his military career being wild, enjoying himself and travelling without any thought of where his career might take him. 

The veteran took a break from the armed forces for a year and when he returned was incredibly focused on career progression. His aim was to become a physical training instructor and then possibly one day join the Special Forces after a deployment. 

Little did he know that his life would be turned upside down in just a few years. 

"At that point, it was all about doing what I want to do, getting promoted, taking control of my career because the second half my career, when I rejoined, everything was digital and online. 

"The first half was all paper-based and it was a bit harder to do but now you can take such control of your career and I would absolutely encourage anybody from day one to have a plan in place, at the very least five-year plan."

Growing A Personal Brand 

Whether you are just weeks into your training, or you've already served for several years, Mark is adamant it is never too early to think about life after the forces. He is living proof that anything can happen to derail your plans and change your life's path. He said: 

"Hopefully everyone will do a full career or as long as they want, but you never know, you might develop illness, you might break your leg playing football, parachuting and then all of a sudden your career is over and you need a Plan B. 

"Or at least you need to be working towards a Plan B and stacking up those qualifications, stacking up those certificates, even networking."

Watch: Mark encourages everyone to have a Plan B in case anything prevents them from continuing their military career.

Mark knows of current service personnel who, while serving and without breaking any military rules, run businesses via their smartphones, giving them a second income. He said: 

"People are running clothing brands, coffee brands, all the things that you're allowed to do, they're running them in the background." 

Define Your Personal Brand 

If this is the route you are considering taking in the future, you might want to consider working on developing a personal brand through social media. Mark knows of serving soldiers who are actively developing a personal brand on social media platforms like Instagram and TikTok because they can see the power of a personal brand on civvy street. 

What Is A Personal Brand? 

The term 'personal brand' is defined by personalbrand.com as: 

"... a widely-recognized and largely-uniform perception or impression of an individual based on their experience, expertise, competencies, actions and/or achievements within a community, industry, or the marketplace at large."

Watch: Mark says a big part of being in the armed forces is about being there for the men and women you serve with.

According to Mark, examples of former service personnel who have successfully built personal brands are the Directing Staff from SAS Who Dares Wins, saying "they've all got powerful personal brands and all gone on to great things". 

When it comes to posting on social media Mark has some salient advice for anyone who want to keep an eye on their career further down the line, saying: 

"Don't be a wally on social media and embarrass yourself or your regiment or anything like that." 

Mark Ormrod Jiu Jitsu Credit Mark Ormrod
Mark Ormrod enjoys jiu jitsu (Picture: Amy-Rose Deffley).

Mark encourages current and former service personnel to use social media to their benefit but to also be aware of its pitfalls. Whatever and whenever you post something onto a social media platform it has the potential to be seen by billions of people. If what you post is considered by someone else to be negative, they can screengrab it and then you are no longer in control of who sees it. 

Middlesbrough footballer Marc Bola, 23, was charged with aggravated conduct by the Football Association (FA) in September 2021 for offensive comments he made on social media in April 2012. 

At the time, Bola was 14 years old. 

According to the FA, the offensive post contained language that "is insulting and/or abusive and/or improper", including a reference to sexual orientation. 

Bola's case and many other instances of old tweets coming back to haunt people is a huge warning to those who wish to create a personal brand via the use of social media. Mark believes that making a concerted effort to use the power of social media for good can be incredibly rewarding, saying: 

"If you see this opportunity to do something productive, constructive, positive and as long as there's no conflict of interest, it doesn't interfere with your career or going to get you in trouble, go out and start a business, grow a brand." 

Watch: Being in the armed forces is not all about physical strength, you have to look after your mental health as well.

Cover Image: Mark Ormrod relaxes at home (Picture: Amy-Rose Deffley).