Getting it done in my twenties
‘When I look back on my military career, it's definitely something I'm glad I did and it's definitely something that I am glad I achieved. It's something I look upon now as I lived and experienced something in my twenties and it's making it easier to settle down with a family now into my thirties.
‘I managed to escape what can be perceived as the mundaneness of civilian life, but now that I’ve experienced that, including active service, it puts me in a better place. I can settle down a bit easier because I feel like that box has been ticked.’
Income, job, career
Once it came time for Tim to transition out of the ADF and move forward with his civilian life, there were a few key things he knew he needed to succeed.
‘There are three things that you need to have when you leave the ADF. One is you need income, second you need a job and third, you need to career.’
‘When I first left the ADF, I worked for three years in a Youth Detention Centre up in Townsville. I spoke to a few people about what sort of jobs I would be suitable for before I left. Obviously, me being a very talkative type of person and enjoying talking with people, it was definitely recommended for me that I should look at a career working with people rather than working with machinery or working with computers. I didn't quite have the smarts to become a general practitioner, so I settled for the next best thing in my opinion — I worked in a gaol.’
‘Although I enjoyed my time working at the Youth Detention Centre, to me that was a job, not a career. It was never something I planned to do the entire time, but it was a job that I could do whilst I was trying to find my next career move.’
‘After a few years, I managed to find my new career, as a Community and Peer Advisor at Open Arms. The majority of what I do is community engagement work and case management with individuals. I get to know people who have concerns. I get to know what obstacles are in the way for them being able to achieve, to fix those problems themselves. And then we come up with a plan tailored to the individual and how they can achieve their goals. Just quietly, it’s the best job I’ve ever had.’
Invest in your time post ADF
Living in sunny North Queensland means Tim is able to take the time to enjoy some of the beautiful nature in the area — including visiting the Great Barrier Reef. Tim says making changes to your lifestyle for the better is a critical part of life after the ADF.
‘The biggest change I made from my time in the Army was changes to my lifestyle. So I invested in my weekends. My weekends are no longer simply a part of just recovering from the week, it’s about experiencing those weekends as best as you can—try to cram as much fun activities as you possibly can. There’s more recreation than rest on my weekends now.’
‘I also recommend that everybody at least compete in a sporting event once a year! Whether that be your local five kilometre charity run or joining the local footie club, whatever you're into. One of the sports that I took up was Brazilian jujitsu. When you leave the ADF you’re going to need hobbies, you're going to need to invest in things like that, because if you invest in the lifestyle side of it, then a lot of the mental health stuff really takes care of itself.’
‘Life after the Army can be hard, but with proper support networks, proper planning and proper time for reflection you will find yourself succeeding.’
If this story has raised any issues for you, please contact Open Arms — Veterans & Families Counselling, on 1800 011 046 (international: +61 8 8241 4546). This free and confidential service provides support to current and ex‑serving ADF personnel and their families 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
For information about Open Arms and the services they provide, including access to a Community and Peer Support Advisor, visit the Open Arms website.