The Body – Adapt and Overcome

Proper prior planning prevents piss poor performance, however, no plan survives contact with the enemy.


{The tactical result of an engagement forms the base for new strategic decisions because victory or defeat in a battle changes the situation to such a degree that no human acumen is able to see beyond the first battle. In this sense, one should understand Napoleon’s saying: “I have never had a plan of operations.”
Therefore no plan of operations extends with any certainty beyond the first contact with the main hostile force}.
– Helmuth Karl Bernhard von Moltke (en.wikiquote.org)


There might be times during the transition from soldier to civi where certain plans may be hindered with unforeseen circumstances. Nonetheless, let’s remember that we as soldiers were always taught to remain flexible and to adapt and overcome.

If your transition to ‘civi street’ is not quite going to plan, it is paramount that you do not let this defeat you. Although it may be a slight setback, try not to lose sight of what we as soldiers do best. Step back, re-assess, re-aline and re-engage or dig in and fight through. That is exactly how David Neaves overcome certain complications when he decided to leave the army in 2009.

David, when did you join the armed forces and what was it that attracted you to the army?

“I joined the army on the 13th March 2000 after ‘nipping’ into the Army Careers office in Hull. Most of my family had arrived in both world wars and done national service. I was a little unruly at school and never really enjoyed it as nothing would hold my attention. I joined the army at eighteen and it was the best thing that I did. I actually thrived on the military discipline, although getting into some minor trouble during my time”.

“I served in the 2nd Battalion the Yorkshire Regiment and previously the 1st Battalion the Yorkshire Regiment. This was actually the 1st Battalion the Prince of Wales’s Regiment of Yorkshire when I joined”.

David at ease

Where did you deploy during your time serving?

“I conducted operations in Iraq (Telic), Bosnia, Northern Ireland and Afghanistan (Herrick). I left the Army on the 23rd of July 2009, however, I joined the reserves and went back out to Afghanistan with my old regular unit”.

What was it that finalised your decision to sign off and leave the army?

“I decided to leave the Army due to all the recent changes. Employing civilians in the military that have no previous military experience was the beginning of the end. That along with young lads that were joining during the recession who didn’t actually have an interest in being a soldier. This stripped the enjoyment from it for me. It’s not a job that you can do without having a love and passion for, although I do miss it”.

How was your personal transition from Soldier to Civi?

“Well, I had a plan to work within the oil and gas industry by using my Enhanced Learning Credits (ELC) and attending resettlement courses. Unfortunately, the first recession hit as I was leaving and in hindsight, I should have stayed in until my twelve-year point but I cut my nose off to spite my face because everyone was telling me I couldn’t make it in ‘civi street’. So I dug my heels in”.

“I found that once I left the army, there was no one to tell me what to do, there was no routine and no structure. All of that which I had grown up with had suddenly gone. It was very daunting and I didn’t really cope well, looking back. I drank excessively to mask the problems and pretend that everything was ok”.

“I failed to make it into the gas and oil industry hence the drinking. I got what work I could and joined the reserves to get back some of that military life that I missed. I sorted myself out and got work as a labourer and ground-worker. Then I deployed to Afghan with the reserves, attached to my old unit (1.YORKS at that time)”.

David in a shell scrape

“With the money I saved from the tour, I put myself through a fitness instructors course (Master Trainers Course) with EIF. I then started to train people but again things went downhill with a little recession (the fallout from the one we just had). So it was back to the drawing board. I then used ELC to do my CP course and went into body-guarding and CP (Close Protection) for High net worth individuals. I did that for a couple of years before FINALLY getting into the gas & oil industry”.

“Overall, I found it hard taking the transition. You feel lost, you don’t belong to anything but over the years I have realised that you still have structure and routine. It’s what you make for yourself. That’s why I love body-building and competing. It’s a discipline”.

So as well as working in the oil and gas industry, you also compete in bodybuilding?

“Yes, I am a body-builder who competes. My first show this year, is the PCA NORTH EAST in Newcastle on the 20th of May and The NABBA NORTH EAST on the 21st of May. I have a full sponsor from Grant Hodnett Nutrition GHN”.

GHN Logo

Grant Hodnett Nutrition (GHN)

“I’ll be giving fifty percent of any prize money won this year to PTSD charities as I have personally struggled at times. I don’t think the government do nearly enough for our service or ex-service personnel”.

If you could give one piece of advice to someone leaving the armed forces, what would you say?

“Don’t be disheartened, I won’t lie it can get tough and hard at times but keep going. Believe in yourself and remember; YOU’VE BEEN THROUGH WORSE, you’ve fought the enemy in their countries. Civi street is what you make of it.” – David Neaves

David in civi street

When planning to leave the armed forces, it would be wise to plan for the worst and hope for the best. Albeit, as you can see from David’s personal transition from soldier to civilian, there is always the potential for certain knock backs to occur.

In my opinion, it is absolutely necessary to plan your transition to the civilian world as thoroughly possible. Though, it is equally as important to remain flexible and to be prepared for your situation to change.

If you do encounter an unanticipated diversion within your transition plan, try to keep your goal in mind and remember the end state in which you are trying to achieve.

Whilst writing this blog, I was able to initiate a thought process which led to this conclusion of principles for achieving personal goals.

  • Persistent 
  • Adaptable
  • Flexible
  • Determined 

Thank you for taking the time to read this week’s blog. I hope that you found this week’s read helpful.

I really appreciate all of the continued loyal support.

Take care and enjoy your bank holiday weekend.

Jamie and featured veteran, David Neaves

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