After 18 years in the British Army, serving in locations such as Northern Ireland, Germany, Afghanistan and Bosnia, Robert Locking was discharged from the Armed Forces, following an injury sustained during a recreational game of British military tug of war.
After leaving the Armed Forces, Robert went on to work for the British Forces Resettlement Services (BFRS), supporting fellow veterans who are looking for a new job or career.
From Army To Civvy Street
Robert’s military life was hugely varied. He applied for the British Army in 1994 at the Armed Forces careers office in Cambridge; he was delighted to be accepted.
Following his basic training in Bassingbourn in Cambridgeshire and Catterick, he moved to Bicester to join 23 Pioneer Regiment in 1995.
Throughout his career, Robert moved from location to location, including England, Northern Ireland, Bosnia, Kosovo, Germany, Iraq, Norway, Iceland and Greenland.
However, although challenging, it wasn’t his work that left him seriously injured.
During a game of military tug of war while in Germany, Robert injured his spine.
The tradition within the Armed Forces stretches back more than a century and can even be played competitively against other countries’ military.
For Robert, his problem meant he had to leave his Army job and start afresh in the commercial world. His transition went smoothly and he was only unemployed for one month.
Working With The Military Community
First, Robert trained as a CCTV operator and worked for Disney for almost a year.
He would often bump into the British Forces Resettlement Services (BFRS) team at events and had always expressed an interest in working with the organisation.
A new opportunity opened up in 2013; Robert interviewed for and got a job in business development.
He remembers having to ask numerous questions to colleagues about his work – being fresh out of the Army, he had to build up a new skillset.
But he settled into his new role quickly.
Robert is now an Armed Forces engagement officer. Thanks to his own experience of making the transition from the Armed Forces to civilian life, he’s in a great position to offer advice and support to other people looking for new employment or careers.
The role takes him around the UK meeting people in the military community explaining how BFRS can help them.
Robert enjoys the opportunities to talk to a diverse group of people: from service leavers, reservists and veterans to civilian Ministry of Defence employees, and military partners and families.
Robert particularly enjoys one of the job’s perks; catching up with former colleagues and old friends as he travels the country.
Advice To Service Leavers: Be Picky
Based on his experience with BFRS, meeting people at careers events, Robert knows that many job seekers are not fully aware of the variety of exciting opportunities outside the military. Robert said:
“People seem quite certain of what their next career is going to be. But it’s not until they walk into a careers event and a hall full of companies that they actually realise what is available to them.”
Offering valuable advice to service leavers, he adds: “Don’t take the first position that’s offered to you, as much as it’s a job. There’s so much out there and you can probably offer so much more.”
This story is part of Life After Service, a week-long campaign where BFBS will be running positive stories about ex-service people across all its media channels.