28 year-old Red (Redmond) Bruce from Edinburgh joined 1 SCOTS, The Royal Regiment of Scotland, in May 2010 at the age of 19. He underwent a variety of training including Fire Support Group (handling heavy weapons including 50 calibre and general purpose machine guns and javelin missile launchers), driving courses and learning basic Dari, one of the official languages of Afghanistan. He was deployed to Afghanistan between December 2012 and March 2013.
After returning, Red decided that he wanted to leave the military and pursue a career with the police, so went to see the company clerks to sign off before beginning his search for civilian employment. As Red had completed less than 4 years’ service at this point, he was classed as an Early Service Leaver (ESL).
“I had decided I wanted to join the police – it was a role that appealed to me and I thought I would be a good fit. I stayed up late one night to complete an application for what was then the Lothian and Borders Police, and was asked to attend an interview in December. Although I got the time off to attend the interview eventually, it was a struggle, and I had to beg to be given leave to go. I had never really understood what we were entitled to in terms of time off for job searching and interviews and it would be good if there was more openness and clarity around this.
“Unfortunately I didn’t get asked for a second interview so I had to look at some of my other options. I was always going back and forth to the resettlement centre at Redford Barracks, where I found there was a lot of support, however, again, it was hard to get time away from my platoon to go and I felt like it was frowned upon. I had to continue with my training and day job and a lot of my peers were very discouraging – they all felt like there were no jobs on civvy street and it was a mistake to leave.
“I also found that a lot of the options, such as close protection, which a friend of mine was pursuing at the time, required additional training and qualifications beyond the £1K grant provided, (to ESLs) and I couldn’t afford to pay for this myself.
“It got to the point where I only had a couple of months to find something, or I was going to be leaving without a job on the other side. My dad suggested I apply to the council for a taxi license as a back-up until I found something else. In March 2014, a friend mentioned that Edinburgh Airport was looking for security staff so I applied for a position there. Although a lot of other ex-Forces personnel are employed there, I still found it hard to sell myself at the interview. I was talking about my experience of handling heavy weapons, and it was difficult to make this relevant to the role I was applying for.”
Red was successful and began his new position in May 2014. He is still working at the airport and is in the process of reapplying for the police.
“When I look back on my experience, I can’t fault the services offered by the resettlement centre – they provided a lot of information on a diverse range of careers and qualifications, however, I think it’s really important that any scaremongering at company level is stopped. It would be wrong for someone who was really hating their time in the army to be put off leaving by this type of negativity.
“I also think greater understanding of how our skills could be adapted for jobs outside the army among both service leavers and potential employers would be very beneficial, and perhaps help open more doors for veterans and improve their performance at interviews.”