LIFE’S rarely a beach when it comes to being the partner of a soldier, but for Foreign & Commonwealth families it can mean putting many miles – and vast bodies of water – between them and their loved ones. Amy Pearson, AFF F&C assistant, tells us more…
With a confused look on our faces we try to remember when we took the oath at the Army Recruitment Centre. The thing is, we didn’t. But we did become part of this exclusive club that brings many challenges – and one of the hardest is dealing with separation.
Coping with long periods away from your loved ones is no mean feat, but many Foreign & Commonwealth families deal with separation every day – from their family, friends, home comforts and cultures; the list goes on.
I chatted to Seruwaia Bevu, known as Seru, about army life miles away from her family back in Fiji.
She married her soldier Tukeba in 2003 and joined him when he was posted to Osnabrück, Germany. Seru was pregnant at the time and full of nerves.
Now, years later, they live in Warminster with their three children and are moving to Catterick with the unit in the coming months.
Are there any support networks that you can turn to for help?
Yes, there are lots. I have approached the F&C team at AFF several times over the years. Our community is lucky to have this resource. The process for visas and citizenship is so in-depth so a helping hand and some guidance is really appreciated.
More recently I’ve used Community Fiji Britain [cfb.org.uk], which has been really helpful. I would definitely go to them again in the future.
Most importantly, I have my 1 YORKS family; we have a real community here. We celebrate together all the time and I can honestly say my friends here are like my family. So many people say we have something very special here.
How do you find being separated from your family?
It can be very hard, especially when times get tough. A few years ago, a tropical storm hit Fiji and affected a lot of military families. It was really difficult to support from so far away but our regiment was amazing! They sent aid packages and organised cake sales and donations. We all pulled together to help.
How often do you get home to see your family and are they able to visit you?
As a family of five we’re not able to travel home as much as we would like. It’s just too expensive, so we use Skype to keep in touch.
My nephew was awarded a rugby scholarship at a school in Yorkshire so I’m lucky to be able to see him and my brother more regularly. I also have other close relatives that have joined the British Army, so I try to catch up with them as much as possible.
Did you find other people to talk to who are in the same position?
Yes, I love the F&C community here. I’ve been with this battalion since I first moved in 2003 so our community is well established. We get together all the time, celebrating Fiji Day and birthdays etc. We really don’t need much of an excuse to have a party!
- Don’t forget, if you’re part of a F&C family and need some support, you can contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org