This week in honor of Armed Forces Week, we're hearing stories from our Armed Forces colleagues and Armed Forces families in order to recognise and celebrate the contribution that members of the Armed Forces community make to NHS.
Military Spouse: Rosi Van Dam
Whilst working for NELFT, as a pathway Lead at the Emotional Wellbeing and Mental Health Service (EWMHS), I have transitioned from a Military Spouse to a Veteran’s Wife. Following several years of living in military quarters and travelling around, my husband and I made the decision to go married unaccompanied. This meant that whilst my husband was posted in Wiltshire, I would live with our two children in Essex. This allowed me to build a career but it also meant that I was largely alone with the children and balancing their needs against the demands of work was challenging. My husband’s transition to civilian life in 2017 was a difficult time due to sustaining a back injury that required emergency spinal surgery and he also developed mental health difficulties.
I have worked for two NELFT EWMHS teams during this time and both have been supportive and understanding. I was granted flexibility to be able to support my husband more at home following his emergency spinal surgery and his subsequent recent second spinal surgery. I have been provided with ongoing understanding and kindness from my team whilst I support my husband with his mental health recovery.
Being a military spouse makes you quite resilient but it sometimes prevents you from reaching out for the support you need. I have always worked full time, previously using toil or annual leave to facilitate my husband’s or the children’s needs. However I returned from maternity leave from the birth of our third child in January 2020 and due to the complex demands placed on me, raising a young family, supporting my husband in his recovery and working as a EWMHS Pathway Lead, I made the decision to work three days a week for a period of time, utilising the Trust’s flexible working policy. In the long term this isn’t sustainable for the service or for my family financially and I will have to be creative with the use of my time going forward.
The end of my husband’s military service, like a majority of the serving personnel hasn’t been a smooth transition to civilian life, but the people around us have managed to make each day achievable and eventually we will be able to embrace being a veteran family. For other military wives, who are the rocks for their families through the constant uncertainty that being married to a serving soldier or veteran brings…you are not alone.