When asked what I do for a living I used to tell people that I was an IT professional. While that is true to an extent (in that I work as an IT professional within my role at work) it is only part of the story.
My reason for this half truth? Until recently I felt that my true profession was regarded in a way with which I didn’t want to be related. Of late this seems to have changed. The UK has, over the last couple of years, fallen in line with it Colonial cousins and begun (to some extent) to respect my profession albeit somewhat grudgingly. And what is this dastardly profession?
I’m a serving member of Her Majesty’s Armed Forces. To be more precise, I’m a Foreman of Signals (Information Systems). What does that actually mean? In simple terms I’m a professionally qualified IT Manager. To be honest I can’t be much more specific, not for any sinister reason, purely because, unlike our civilian counterparts we very rarely get to specialise in a specific area of the industry. Due to the nature of our jobs we have to be a ‘jack of all trades’ rather than ‘master of one’. I’ve been serving for over a decade and have deployed over the years to Bosnia, Kosovo, Iraq and Afghanistan.
Why do I do it? To be honest it was a case of self, and family, preservation. I’d worked in the ‘real world’ for many years before signing up and, after being made redundant on more than one occasion, decided I wanted some security in my life which I felt could only be provided by this life.
Am I happy in my work? Will I serve my full career? Yes. And no. To both of these questions. Like every job there are good days and bad and, as long as the good outweigh the bad, I’ll keep on wearing green (or deserts).
But one thing I am not. I am not a ‘squaddie’.