Most modern soldiers today don’t die as casualties during war. But rather, they die afterwards— as veterans—from despair, helplessness and alienation. In fact, the suicide rate for modern veterans is well over five times that of soldiers who sacrificed their lives on a foreign battle field. Sadly, the numbers just keep growing.
Navigating your way back into the civilian world is a perilous journey. However, as soldiers and first responders, we are resilient people—we’ve proven this already during our service. We have risen above a large pool of applicants simply to get into our chosen field. We have passed rigorous training and assessment, which have earned us the right to wear the badge that we so honour. We have worn our uniform every day and conducted ourselves in a professional manner, until such time came that we passed the badge and duty on to another.
For many of us, we lay down our badge, slouch hat or uniform and forget about the foundational core values that drew us to “the job” in the first place. Somewhere along the way we have become jaded and angry and have shied away from anything reminiscent of that environ- ment.
The downside of this, is we consequently lose many aspects of the lifestyle which is integral to being healthy and productive humans.
By returning to the wilderness we can remove many of the stresses of modern life for a short while, allowing us to connect with our peers through shared hardship and experiences. We discover that we are not unique or alone in our experiences and are reminded that not everything about our time serving was negative… In fact, some of our experiences are now a core part of our values and personality.
Connecting with others can lead to the realisation that we are part of a special group in society whose members are resilient, professional and in possession of many transferable skills which are rare in both the wider community and workforce. This larger belonging can provide security, identity and psychological strength, all derived from the realisation that we are part of something bigger, older and more complex than anything we know.
There is nothing like a starry night sky to enhance this awareness.
If you’re someone who misses the camaraderie and physicality from your time serving, then we encourage you to come and join us on one of our activities and connect with other like- minded sheepdogs.