Sam Snell joined the Australian Defence Force (ADF) in 2008, at the age of 17, and discharged in 2015. Having joined so young Sam found the transition out of the ADF challenging, she felt that ‘all I knew and all I am was simply defence’. She started her adult life in military uniform, having joined straight from school, and it became her way of life for the next seven years.
She has now found a job she loves and one that allows her to give back and still stay connected with the defence family – she is currently a Community and Peer advisor with Open Arms – Veterans & Families Counselling.
‘Some of the best years of her life’
This is how Sam describes her time serving in the ADF. Her network of friends is something she still maintains today, and when looking back at her military career she always feels a sense of great pride.
Sam’s military career was spent in the Navy, and at the time of her discharge she was an Able Seaman. The skills and experience she gained were broad and diverse, whether that be while in recruit school, at sea or on postings and undertaking courses. All of which she draws upon in her current role in helping others.
Heading in to the unknown- transitioning from the ADF
‘I found the transition to be a very scary experience’, Sam says. There was a lot of misinformation out there that contributed to this – coming from all sources, but particularly those who had got out before her. There were two people that were key in Sam’s transition – her direct supervisor and her mother.
Sam’s direct supervisor ‘took everything I could throw at him’. Every question or concern she had he was able to help with. Meanwhile, like for many of us, her mother has always been her biggest supporter. Whenever she has been unsure about anything Sam would always run it past her mother. She helped ensure Sam saw everything from a different point of view so that she could be sure she was making a well informed decision.
My positive outlook on life
When asked about how her life looks since leaving the military Sam said ‘my life looks beautiful’. ‘I have had my share of challenges—divorce, losing my dad—but I have an amazing little family who love and support all I do’.
To go with that, Sam describes her job as the ‘most rewarding’, as she gets to support those who she has personally served with and other fellow defence members and their families. It’s fair to say she also has the travel bug and enjoys heading overseas whenever possible. A big positive for Sam is that she never has to be too far away from her dog. Not to mention Sam also fancy’s herself as a bit of a MasterChef and has big plans for the future – to grow her family, pay off that dreaded mortgage and hopefully have an investment property on the Gold Coast where she sees herself living one day.
One of my biggest concerns when leaving the ADF and how I overcame it
‘I was worried that employers didn’t want to employ someone who could only shoot guns and drive a ship’, Sam says. This is what other people had told Sam, but as she says, thankfully they were wrong.
Sam pitched herself as someone very dedicated, trustworthy and who took great pride in her work, and time and time again she has continued to show this. This is reflected in her resume and backed-up by her supporting references. So with that positive attitude it isn’t any surprise that she was able to find work – having worked in the construction and legal industries before joining Open Arms – Veterans & Families Counselling.
‘I now work as a Community and Peer adviser with Open Arms, assisting those past and present serving ADF members and their families. I have lived experience that I am able to bring to the table in order to connect with and guide those I am assisting with their day to day problems they are dealing with.’
There is nothing to fear about your transition
Sam says ‘discharging from the Defence Force shouldn’t be daunting to anyone, especially nowadays’. Her biggest advice is to make sure you access the benefits you are entitled to receive ‘ I encourage anyone and everyone, including spouses and families of those who have served to always exhaust all avenues in obtaining these benefits before and potentially after the member discharges.’