Fail to Prepare, Prepare to Fail

2007, Age sixteen

Tactical exercises, combat medical training, firing various weapon systems and putting live rounds down the range. 

Fifty two weeks of basic training, and I now stand to attention in front of my family, on my passing out parade (graduation parade). I’ve been taught how to shave, shower and wash my balls correctly. I’ve also received lessons on how to preserve the life of casualties and how to kill the enemy. There has been a great deal of information to take on board, however I was taught well and with diligence, I was now ready to join my regiment in order to deploy.  

Basic training requires a lot of time, effort and hard work from the NCO’s (non-commissioned officers), as it is their duty to prepare you for war. After all, these NCO’s will be sending you forward to your respective regiments, where you will be fighting alongside their friends, against real enemy. It is in everyone’s best interest, including your own, that you are taught and prepared well. 

Leaving the Armed Forces however, can feel slightly more independent. It is very much so in your own interest and only in your interest, that you prepare well for “civi street” (civilian life). I could blame the Army, government and even family for my struggles and failures, when I was transitioning from “Soldier to Civi”. The situations and consequences I faced, were down to the decisions that I made. The sooner you can come to terms with this being a main factor of your own results and where you stand now, the sooner you can double down and work on yourself. 

In my opinion (and remember, it is only in my opinion through experience) it is down to you and the steps you take, in order to achieve a successful future and a higher chance of survival in civi street.

“Fail to prepare, prepare to fail”. I’m sure you have heard this on many occasions during your military life, that’s if you have ever served or are currently serving. I believe this to be very pertinent to the transition from soldier to civi. You prepare well and with diligence in becoming a soldier during basic training, however like myself and many others, you may fail to prepare for civi street in the same manner. I’ve wasted my ELC’s (Enhanced Learning Credits which every soldier is entitled to when leaving the Armed Forces) on various courses that have led to “dead ends”. For example, I attended a course in Covert Surveillance Investigations, which was a great course and I learned a lot from the course, however I failed to conduct enough research prior to attending the course. It turned out, this industry and line of work was extremely hard to get into.

Do your research. 

There are many organisations and schemes to help you when leaving the Armed Forces. Research them, ask questions and seek guidance. Make sure you have a solid plan and good knowledge for a strong chance of survival in civi street (I will go into this in more detail in future blogs).

Prior planning and preparation prevents a piss poor performance.

How and why did I fail to prepare for civi street?

Thank you for reading my blog. I’m interested in hearing other veterans thoughts and experiences, so please feel free to exchange comments bellow and discuss how you ‘Failed to Prepare’ or maybe you succeeded in preparing for civi street.

Thanks again

– Jamie R Kennedy


3 thoughts on “Fail to Prepare, Prepare to Fail

  1. Having been myself in the Spanish Legion deployed twice, after 5 years I got out, and then it was the cliché, drunk, homeless, constant fights, jail time, the list goes on. At least there in the U.S, even though you guys think they don´t take care of you, here in Spain is just a whole different culture. Most of the country doesn´t even know they have a military and if they do they really don´t care.

    In Spain, being in the army, in the eyes of a lot and a lot people is being a fascist (since up until 1975 we had a cool dictator which as all, they rule through the guns a.k.a use of the military). We actually where forbidden to go out of the base in uniform. And constant fights around the town with all the communist here. So it´s a whole different situation. I lived in the U.S for half of my early life, so I know how they appreciate there the soldiers. Not the case in Spain. So here there is no help for any of us, and for us that is normal, what I don´t find normal but I think is great, is that they actually will pay for credits to take courses over there for ex military people. If I had something like that I would probably have ended up in a better situation. I got out, wich a bunch of dough I should say since here they would actually ask within the unit for volunteers to be deployed to afghanishit and pay you 3,000$ a month. And it was a 7 month deployment. So at age 25 I get out, find myself with a bunch of dough and things got out of control, I spend the money fast for sure and ended up in the streets.

    So, if they give those credits to you guys to go get an eductation, man I would have taken it (I hope I would anyways) . The transition from army to civilian life is hard, I guess that it all depends on you and only you and your inner fortitude to do the right thing and take the right path. Thinking about it, with all that money I had I could have spend it in courses to study for a certain job, but I decided to use it on other not very good things. I felt alive, I felt sad, I felt out of control. And since I´m not a psychologist I guess I was weak and still am since I still struggle with alcohol, not homeless anymore though as you can see, and at age 30 started with this writing thing. I get by, living month to month, but the family is what has made me want to live. I got out and completely lost touch with my family, reunited at age 30 and thanks to them 4 years later I´m doing semi good.
    So in my case family is what has saved me from utter self destruction.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. This is amazing. Thank you for sharing your story with me and everyone else who will ready this. It’s interesting to hear a spanish side to the transition of Soldier to Civi! So it’s family that helped you find your feet. Do you mind if I share your story on the ‘Soldier to Civi’ Facebook page?


      1. It´s out there in public domain so if you want to…., but that is way in the past now, I´m a poet now, I´m like Shakespeare or even better…yeah, better, you can add that to, gotta get myself some promotion here.

        Liked by 1 person

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