I’ve been debating whether or not to write this post for about 6 months now because I didn’t know how to get this off my chest without sounding nasty (or crazy). Because that is not my intention. My intention is for this to be a reality check of sorts. A non-sugar coated truth bomb that I hope will help you see the bigger picture.
I have come across some blogs and social media posts from girlfriends/partners of recruits at Kapooka that have made me cringe and honestly they have made me concerned about how these women (and their partners) are going to survive. In response to what I have read, here are 11 things I think everyone should know:
- Basic training is training is not just training for the recruits. It is also training for you to get used to your new lifestyle. Things like having minimal contact with your partner is to help you to become independent and not reliant on your partner. For example, I see a lot of people getting worked up about the last bush exercise. It is only 12 days. This is your first real test and a lot of you are failing to use it as a time to show your strength and independence. As I said, it is only 12 days and you will have much longer periods without contact in the future so you need to be prepared.
- I understand that there are a lot of couples who have never spent any time apart prior to joining the army. What I don’t understand is how many of you seem to fall apart when you other half leaves. We are strong, modern women! We don’t need to lay on the floor crying when they leave! Yes it is sad and you will miss them but life will go on as normal and you WILL see them again. Use this time to get to know yourself better.
- The army’s version of what’s urgent will be different for yours. Stretching the truth about ‘urgent’ situations just so you or your kid can talk to them is only going to ruin it for everyone else. The army will always give you what you need, not what you want.
- Your partner is the one doing the hard yards at training, not you. There is no ‘we’ made it to march out. They did all the hard work, not you.
- Local leave is designed for the recruits to have some R&R. Don’t have big expectations and don’t make it about you.
- Defacto recognition. If you haven’t lived together prior to Kapooka (or if you just lived together at a parents’ house) you are not in a defacto relationship. You shouldn’t have to set out to open bank accounts etc just to apply for defacto recognition. Let your relationship progress to that stage naturally. Would you be registering your relationship with any government agencies if your partner hadn't enlisted? It’s totally ok to be in a relationship with a defence member and not have defacto recognition. It doesn’t make your relationship any less meaningful nor does it mean you don’t love each other as much.
- The defence community is small so be careful what bridges you burn because you might end up being neighbours or having your partners work together one day.
- You are not the first person to go through this nor will you be the last. You are not the first person to have to leave their job, family and friends and everything you’ve ever known and move to a new location. Everyone has to do it eventually and it is actually one of the best things about this lifestyle!
- Respect the advice of those who have been here before and the ones that have been doing this for a long time. They can be the best source of support for you. But remember, the best support isn’t always a shoulder to cry on but rather someone who can tell you to stop the tears and put your big girl panties on when you need it.
- The 80 days at Kapooka is not the hardest thing you’ll ever do, it’s just the hardest thing you’ve done so far. While things might improve slightly during IET’s, the hardest things are yet to come once you get to normal army life. The absences will be longer. There will be no set timetable of what they are doing when like at Kapooka. You might only have a general idea of where they are. There are no set times in which they can call you. There will be exercises where you will have zero contact at all.
- There will always be decisions made by the army that you think are ‘unfair’ or ‘mean’. Try to see the bigger picture. All decisions are ultimately made with the wellbeing of the serving member in mind (although it may be hard for you to see it).
Enjoy the learning experience that is basic training. Use the opportunity to learn new things about yourself and find strength you didn’t know you had. Learn from those who have been there before and you will be a better person for it!
Until next time,