My Road to Oman: Physically and Mentally Degraded
‘You have been physically and mentally degraded,’ our training Captain announced at the end of our JNCO’s cadre. Our SAS instructor looked subtly on in the distance.
I was brimming with pride, belonging and confidence mixed together with surges of disappointment in facing the reality of office life the following week. Pushing paper and sitting at a desk all day sent my blood cold and was a wonderful leach on my morale.
For four years I lived for the military, it was my ambition, my purpose and what I felt was a deep calling. I had a confidence in myself that I had not experienced before. It made sense to me and I was drawn to serve from the pit of my stomach.
I wanted to be immersed in a lifestyle, not just a job, that served a greater purpose. In that four year period in the Reserves I had dedicated myself to joining the Army Legal Service, as a regular Officer, upon qualification.
‘No plan ever survives contact with the enemy.’
This dream was cut bitterly short by two circumstances; recession and an ambition to succeed in a first for my Regiment. To compete in the Royal Artillery Gold Cup at Sandown Park.
The first, already a reality and the second was not to be and the final nail in the coffin for my military career. A broken back on the gallops put a stop to all plans I had for the foreseeable future.
Now, only two months after the JNCO’s cadre, I was once again physically and mentally degraded in a hospital bed.
A lengthy rehabilitation of body and mind ensued and a growing plague of guilt encompassed my being. Guilt that I hadn’t played my part in the Afghanistan Campaign.
Instead, in an attempt to paper over these cracks, I went on a very long walk with some sunflowers seeds. At the forefront of my mind our soldiers and injured veterans.
I needed to do my bit and make my contribution.
The satisfaction on completion of this walk was short lived. What remained firmly embedded in my psyche however, was a magnetic draw to do more and push myself further.
This walk around the South West Coast Path led me to the stage of Royal Geographical Society in Kensington. I spoke about what I had done, who I met and why I did it.
Afterwards a Young Officer from the Household Cavalry walked towards me, shook my hand and said ‘thank you.’
From one long walk with a purpose to another. My Road to Oman.