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  • Chris Keen

Self Isolation... We Can Do This!

So Bojo has finally had enough and told us all to stay at home to slow the spread of COVID-19.


Some people however are still really been struggling with this concept and are hating the fact they have to stay in, to these people I say grow up and think of others!


I love the saying which is doing the rounds on social media at the moment: “Our grandparents went to war so that we could live the life we’re living today, all we’re being asked to do for them is stay at home"


I also can’t help but compare everything that's going on right now to some normal aspects of life within a military community. Let me explain why...


Being away from loved ones/friends

Military personnel are away from their friends and family ALL the time, they don’t have much choice although depending on where they go, we (their immediate family) might go with them. This can literally be anywhere in the world and you can’t just pop home to see the people you love. Granted this isn’t the same as the full on self isolation thats going on around the world right now, but military families are certainly used to spending long stretches of time away.


I saw a lot of very sad people on Mothering Sunday because they weren’t able to spend the day with their mum. I did actually get to see mine this year but it was the first one I’d spent with her for 5 years. Same goes for missed Fathers days, Birthdays, Weddings etc.


So being forced to spend time away from people is not actually new to a military family.


Unemployment

I’ve been very lucky in this area and it hasn’t affected me because of the nature of my work. However unemployment is a common problem for military spouses, again because of all the moving around.


You could be in a location for a year or so, nice and settled, decent job, decent friends etc and then the call comes for you to move. This means leaving your job and potentially becoming unemployed until you find a new job in your next location.


There is plenty of help out there these days to ease the worry, for example Recruit For Spouses and Forces Families Jobs, which are both brilliant and are definietly helping to solve the problem. A lot of spouses are also stay at home parents, so are already quite used to spending a lot of time at home without a job.

Being told what to do

As I mentioned above we are all now being TOLD, not asked to stay at home and unsurprisingly, being told what to do comes hand in hand with life within a military community.


Regardless of whether you're the serving member of the family or not, you have to follow the rules especially if you live on camp. If you’re told you have to be back on camp and in your house by 8pm every night, then you WILL be back on camp and in your house at 8pm every night.


If it means that you can’t leave camp for the weekend because it’s locked down, guess what... You’re not leaving camp!


You do get the odd spouse who kicks off a bit on social media on the ‘wives’ pages but they're quickly shut down told and to wind their neck in.


Pulling together

Since all this started we've seen the true colours of some people... We’ve seen the really selfish ones who went out and only thought of themselves, buying as much stuff as they could to make sure they were ok.


However, we’ve also seen the most amazing displays of kindness and selflessness. People buying food for others, making sure others don’t go without. We’ve seen people coming together as communities to make sure nobody is left out or on their own and we’ve now seen thousands of people step up to Boris Johnson’s call for volunteers to help the NHS.


Again this is nothing new to military communities, no matter where they are around the world they will always stick together, kindness is always shown and nobody is ever left out.


I would go above and beyond for my neighbours to make sure they were ok (even if we didn’t really know them that well) and I know they would do the same for us if we needed.


Let’s just hope that when all of this is over we as a country can still act like this and show how nice we can all actually be.


Uncertainty

None of us, not even the experts know how long all of this is going to last, what the impact will be or how the country will look when we come out the other side.


This sort of uncertainty (ovbiously not to this extreme) is something that military families go through all the time.


Most of us won’t know where we’re being sent to around the world, how long for, where we’ll live, what will happen with the children's education or what jobs for spouses there will be. On top of this we won’t know if our husband/wife will be sent away on their own and again how long for. Sometimes these moves happen at short notice, and we just have to get on with it.


Food shortages/rationing

I left this point till last because it’s not really a big issue and doesn’t really happen...


That is UNLESS you’re posted to the Falklands Islands. We’ve spent a few years in the Falklands and over there you're on a camp with 2 little NAAFI shops.


The NAAFI relies on the FIRS (Falkland Islands Resupply Ship) in order to stock it’s shelves. If the FIRS is delayed it means the shelves will be pretty bare! Fresh food comes in a couple of times a week, but is fairly limited, so anyone that has been posted there is quite used to lacking in certain foods, and only having UHT milk!


There is the option to travel an hour down the road to the capital city (Stanley) but you have to be prepared to pay quite a bit more for what you’re after, and they have similar difficulties for resupply, so you may still not find what you need.


Those that were posted to the Ascension Island (especially in the last couple of years) had it even worse than this and could go months without resupply!


I’m sure other small overseas locations probably face similar difficulties, however it does prepare you to be flexible and imaginative, making do with what food you have in your pantry and freezer, just like the nation is having to do right now!


Put on a brave face and smile!


So, my advice to you amidst all this uncertainty is to pull together and appreciate what you have at home with your immediate family. Just remember to set yourself something productive to do each day, and keep yourselves busy...

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