A shared experience
Age is not a factor for the Armed Forces. It is shared experience that counts and each member of the forces has his or her own experiences to draw upon and assist others.
Every year the Royal Regiment of Scotland hosts an activity weekend for cadets and veterans to mix and participate in a number of outdoor pursuits. The aim of the weekend is to highlight to both generations what they have to offer each other. This is an invaluable experience as they often realise that they have more in common than they first thought.
Many veterans suffer from combat stress and become isolated. They have so much experience to offer, however they sometimes lack the confidence to share their war stories with others. The cadets can encourage veterans to share this knowledge, allowing them to help the younger generation learn citizenship skills, as well as respect for themselves and others. The two age groups have so much to offer each other. Cadets have the ability to encourage veterans to share their experiences and in turn the veterans have stories that can help prepare the cadets for the future.
Lynda Joyce (16) from Cumbernauld is an army cadet who participated in the activity weekend last summer. Lynda is aware of the opportunities that being in the Armed Forces can offer, however after spending time with veterans she realised the impact that the trauma of war can have. She explained: “When meeting the veterans initially, it was apparent that their time in the Armed Forces had lasting effects on them. Most were very open about their experiences while there were a few who were more reserved and seemed reluctant to open up.”
After a few activities and encouragement from the cadets the veterans began to talk about their days at war, Lynda said: “It was excellent to be able to interact with the veterans. The aim of the weekend was for us to build their confidence, but in fact it was them who built mine. I am happy that both age groups managed to learn from each other, rather than it being a one way experience.”
Before the weekend Lynda was unaware of how much the cadets would have in common with the veterans. However, after spending time with the ex-soldiers Lynda’s perceptions changed: “We all have shared goals and ambitions, the only difference being that most of the veterans have managed to achieve theirs and I still have to fulfill mine. I realised then that although the veterans are from a different generation, they are not much different from the modern day cadets.”
Lynda claimed the project to be an overall success and hopes to participate in similar projects in the future. She believes that projects mixing age groups should be encouraged more within the community.
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