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It’s not just a job – It’s an adventure

Published in the Barrie Advance
15 November 2006
The Canadian Forces are very much in the news these days with the current operation in Afghanistan where Canadians are serving in a combat zone for the first time since the Korean War. Simcoe County has always had a proud military heritage and its residents have never shied away from serving their country in the Army, Navy and Air Force.

But is the military still a desired profession for today’s youth and a sought after employer? The answer would appear to be a resounding yes. According to Sergeant Peter Stibbard, Canadian Forces Recruiting Detachment Barrie recruited more candidates in 2005 than the previous year and are already 47% ahead of their projected target for 2006. Many of the applicants he sees are highly educated, informed and motivated people who want a good career with benefits, job security, good training, a pension, room for advancement and adventure. “Many tell us we are their employer of choice,” says Sgt. Stibbard. As well, Sgt. Stibbard has seen more applicants directly from high school this year than all of the past 4 years he has been a recruiter.

In fact, there are so many recruits entering basic training these days that the Canadian Forces Recruit and Leadership School (CFLRS) in St Jean Quebec recently opened a new detachment at CFB Borden. The Borden detachment is expected to remain open until at least 2007, maybe even longer.

Is it possible that the high cost of a post-secondary education is responsible for this trend? For those dreaming of becoming a mechanic, a cook, a pilot or a doctor, the Canadian Forces will train you at an applicable Canadian Forces training school at no cost to you, and guarantee you a job on completion of training.

For those wishing a university education, Royal Military College provides a fully paid, top-notch education and a job as a commissioned officer in the Canadian Forces.

Even those who wish to serve in the reserves can be eligible for up to $2000 per year in a special scholarship for most post-secondary degree or diploma programs. This is in addition to being virtually guaranteed a job every summer to pay school expenses. Other benefits of Reserve Force service include enrollment in the Canadian Forces dental plan (what other part-time job includes a dental plan in its benefits). As well, employment opportunities have never been better for reservists. There are many full-time Reserve Force positions available, both domestically and internationally on tours of duty on United Nations and NATO missions.

So just what is the recruiting process? Typically a recruiting centre or job fair would be the starting point for someone looking to join the military, either for information or to begin the initial process. Most major cities across Canada have a recruiting centre. With the advent of the Internet, the process of obtaining information has become even easier. An enhanced web site (www.recruiting.forces.gc.ca) provides a great tool for recruiters: “e-recruiting”. This is where the potential recruit can download and/or submit all the initial recruiting forms on-line and a recruiter contacts them later for the necessary in-person stages. This tool is great for communities and people that don’t have easy access to recruiting centers. You can even track the status of your application online, including appointment dates for the various required tests.

To serve in the Canadian Forces, candidates need to meet some basic requirements including being a Canadian citizen or landed immigrant (with some restrictions), be 17 years of age (with parental/guardian consent) or older and meet the minimum education requirements for your entry plan and/or occupation (the bare minimum being 15 secondary school credits for Ontario residents). As well, when attending for the in-person stages of the recruiting process, the candidate must provide a birth certificate or citizenship card, original transcript for your level of education, proof of trade qualifications (e.g.; you’e already a licenced mechanic) and your social insurance number card.

Once the minimum requirements have been met, the candidate attends the recruiting centre for 4 different testing stages: aptitude testing, a medical examination, fitness evaluation test, and a personal interview. This process usually takes 2 months to complete.

Some potential recruits come into the recruiting centre with a particular job already in mind. The Canadian Forces has both skilled and unskilled positions available to both men and women, but not all applicants are suitable. As Sergeant Jason Braida of the Canadian Forces Recruiting Detachment Barrie points out, it is the job of the recruiter is to assist the applicant in choosing a trade that is right for them. If the applicant wishes to go into a medical trade, but did poorly in science courses in school, this may not be a viable option.

Additionally, it is the recruiter’s job to ensure that all applicants understand what they are getting into. The military is unlike any other job out there and is definitely not for everyone. If the applicant wishes to go into one of the combat arms trades (infantry, armoured, artillery, and combat engineer), they need to understand that these trades are very physically demanding. There is frequent exposure to loud noises and they require working outdoors in extreme weather conditions for extended periods with minimal rest and usually a tent for shelter. The combat arms trades are also frequently deployed overseas on United Nations or NATO missions, including hot spots such as Afghanistan.

Some trades are harder to get into that others due to their popularity. An applicant wishing to get into the Military Police may find a long waiting list, thus delaying their entry into the Canadian Forces, so another trade may be a better choice. Although some do elect to serve in other trades, such as the infantry, hoping to become an MP later, Sgt. Braida cautions against this practice. Recruiters recommend that applicants only accept a job offer for a trade that they are truly interested in since changing jobs once enrolled in the CF is not done easily or quickly.

Those considering joining the Reserves need to understand the time commitments required. Reservists undergo training in their spare time away from jobs, school and family, during evenings, on weekends and during the summer months, sometimes far from home. While Reserve commanders are understanding that a member’s civilian commitments can sometimes interfere with training opportunities, if one is to remain a viable member, they must be willing to at least meet minimum attendance requirements. Most Reserve Force units, however, expect better than a “minimum” attendance record.

Once an applicant passes the 4 testing stages, they are put on a national merit list for the trades of their choosing and suitability, up to 3 in total. The length of time it takes to receive a job offer will depend on the number of positions available in a particular trade. The Canadian Forces hires more infantry soldiers than fighter pilots.

Once a position opens up, a formal job offer is made to the applicant. If the applicant chooses to accept this trade, they are enrolled in the Canadian Forces. All recruits must then pass 3 training stages: basic training, environmental training and basic trade training.

Basic training is where you learn the basics of being in the Canadian Forces. It doesn’t matter whether you choose the Army, Navy or Air Force, everyone undergoes training in marching, weapons, military knowledge, leadership, teamwork and the ethics and values of a military environment. For those choosing to join the Canadian Forces as a commissioned officer, the course also includes officer training. Most basic training courses for Regular Force members are conducted at the CFLRS in St. Jean, Quebec and CFLRS Detachment Borden. This is a 10 week course, but will be expanded to 13 or 14 weeks later this year. Reserve Force members are usually trained at training centres local to their reserve unit such as Base Borden, Area Training Centre Meaford or Camp Wainwright (Alberta). One exception is the Communications Reserve, which conducts basic training for its members at CFB Shilo in Manitoba.

Next comes environmental training. This is where you learn skills pertinent to your service branch such as infantry tactics for Army personnel, shipboard living for Navy personnel and flight-line procedures for the Air Force.

Finally comes basic trades training, where you learn the basics of your chosen profession: Vehicle Technician, Medical Assistant, Resource Management Support (RMS) Clerk, Military Police, Mobile Support Equipment Operator, Dental Technician, etc. This is where previous trade qualifications can be taken into account. For example, if prior to joining the Canadian Forces, the recruit was already a trained mechanic, this stage can be shortened or even by-passed, depending on the recruit’s level of proficiency. This can also result in pay bonuses and accelerated promotions in rank.

After graduation from trade training, members are posted to an operational unit at an appropriate base or ship. Some trades such as RMS Clerk, Military Police, Cook or Medical Officer, are known as the “purple trades”. These trades are common to all service branches and as such, your service branch is irrelevant to your employment environment. You can have an Army cook serving aboard a ship, an Air Force Medical Officer serving at an Army base and so on. Additionally, since all flying is done by Air Force personnel, pilots and aircrew can serve in squadrons supporting Army units or aboard Naval destroyers and frigates.

Entry level pay rates vary, with a Private earning $2421 per month. An Officer Cadet receives $1328 per month, with a jump to $3806 once commissioned a Second-Lieutenant. Pilots and medical officers receive in the mid to high $3000s.

Initially, Canadian Forces members are offered a Variable Initial Engagement contract of 3 to 6 years for non-commissioned members and 9 to 13 for officers. After this initial period, qualifying members will be offered a contract that will extend them to the minimum pensionable time of 25 years. During this second contract, members wishing to release from the Canadian Forces can do so with 6 months notice.

On August 17, ten new recruits were sworn in at the Canadian Forces Recruiting Detachment Barrie. One new recruit, Private Jordan Reid, 21, is following in his father’s footsteps, retired Chief Warrant Officer Skip Reid. A thirty year veteran of the Canadian Forces, Skip Reid, now the Deputy Fire Chief at CFB Borden, had the pleasure of swearing-in his son. Upon graduation from recruit training, Jordan will begin his career as a Combat Engineer.

Jordan admits that growing up in a military environment (known as a base BRAT in military circles) did influence his decision to join, but it wasn’t the only reason. A good career with a future, a paid education and a chance to serve your country were his primary reasons. Despite his own career choice, Deputy Chief Reid didn’t push his son into a military career. “It was his choice to join,” said Deputy Chief Reid.

Private Rhonda Samson was influenced by the fact that her husband is currently in the Canadian Forces. The 34 year old mother of two school age children, Rhonda was already accustomed to the unique conditions of a life in the military and decided she wanted to take a more active role in supporting Canada’s troops. Upon graduation, she will work as a Resource Management Support Clerk.

Private Jake Kingsberry, 24, decided he didn’t want to work in a factory and no other jobs appealed to him as much as the army. Jake, who will join the Royal Canadian Regiment upon graduation, is proud of his country and wanted a unique and important job in which he could make a difference in the world.

Private Tim Hill, 22, a graduate of Georgian College’s Police Foundations course, decided joining the army was a good way to serve his country and see the world. Upon graduation, Tim will work as a signals operator and hopes to eventually get into the military intelligence branch.

Even if you don’t intend on making a career in the Canadian Forces, an overall benefit is the leadership training that the Canadian Forces provides. Even during basic training, all are expected to take a leadership role of some sort. As Sgt. Braida points out, regardless of your rank or trade, “We teach leadership. All trades will train you to be a leader. That’s why many employers look highly upon military service for both perspective and current employees.

To see the full Barrie Advance article, go to – http://www.simcoe.com/article/22526

About the author

Bruce Forsyth

Bruce Forsyth served in the Royal Canadian Navy Reserve for 13 years (1987-2000). He served with units in Toronto, Hamilton & Windsor and worked or trained at CFB Esquimalt, CFB Halifax, CFB Petawawa, CFB Kingston, CFB Toronto, Camp Borden, The Burwash Training Area and LFCA Training Centre Meaford.

Permanent link to this article: https://militarybruce.com/its-not-just-a-job-its-an-adventure/

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