Thousands of sailors, marines, soldiers, airmen and airwomen leave their Service every year around the world. Whether they served their country in uniform for a few years or several decades, they all have in common that they took up arms, joining a vocation that required them to be committed, resilient, expert, and fit. They lived lives with very little separation between life and work, where everybody relies on each other – prepared if necessary to lay down their life for the man or woman next to them in the fight, as well as for their family, unit and country.
We all have to leave our Service at some time. Some leave as a result of itchy feet, some due to the toll of the tough exigencies of military life, a few through injury or illness, and many just because they got older. With very few exceptions, everybody of every rank and Service finds it hard when they leave. Of course, there are some immediate advantages: on finally taking off uniform there is more personal freedom to go where you want to and do what you please, the opportunity to try new things, free of the obligations that come with military service. But almost every leaver soon finds they have parted with a vocation, a way of life, that gave them purpose and self-respect, that felt like it really mattered, that developed them as individuals and found them lifelong friends.