A FORMER soldier who took part in the largest tank battle since the Second World War has launched a fantastic new social network for ex-military personnel.
Ben Mead, aged 32, who has links with Hailsham, currently works as a manager for an engineering company throughout Sussex.
But his current employment as a ‘civvy’, which he enjoys, involves a very different working culture compared to the unique camaraderie he experienced on the front line in Afghanistan and Iraq.
Mr Mead realised there are few social groups catering for soldiers and others returning from modern conflicts who struggle relating to veterans’ organisations from the Second World War era.
So he has begun a new social network for anyone from the Hailsham and Eastbourne areas who have served in the military in recent years – called Military Roots (Ex-Military Wicked Sense of Humour).
Mr Mead said: “Military Roots is for anyone who has serviced in the military to meet once per month for a social.
“You don’t have to have done service in conflict - just to have been in the military. It’s a way of making new friends and understanding that you not alone in the Hailsham and Eastbourne areas.
“You can sit with some ex-military personnel for a few hours per month and enjoy a beer or enjoy the laughs you once shared in the military.”
Military Roots encourages every member to enjoy their local military association branch, as this helps them keep in contact with the old regiment or units, according to Mr Mead.
He added: “But the most important part is for everyone at Military Roots to understand that we are here for each other as we all share the same wicked military sense of humour and understand each other.
“If you were in the Army, Royal Air Force or Royal Navy - we are all part of the same family of the British Armed Forces.”
Mr Mead’s impressive military career took him all over the world – from the moment he joined the 103 BN (Battalion) (V) BN HQ, Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers (REME) in 1999, as a Technical Storeman / Regimental Specialist (RS) to the moment he decided to ‘hang up my boots’ after three close near hits from RPG rockets on board a RAF helicopter near Camp Bastion, Afghanistan.
He took part in the large tank battle at the invasion of Iraq with the Royal Scots Dragon Guards REME LAD (Light Aid Detachment), 7th Armoured Brigade (Desert Rats)/Challenger 2 Main Battle Tank (MBT).
Mr Mead feared many of his fellow service personnel were carrying psychological scars from battle fronts in places such as Iraq and Afghanistan as they adjusted to civilian life.
He added: “If you have a visible injury everyone can see that and feel towards that veteran.
“But if the injury is a mental scar it becomes a different story as people don’t understand warfare of recent conflicts.
“That veteran will suffer in silence for most of his life as no one understand how he is feeling inside.”
The ex-soldier said that becoming a ‘Civvy’ involved thinking differently – even having a different sense of humour because you are trained in the military way of thinking. He has found that a joke at home or work can offend someone – and yet a fellow military person would understand the humour.
If you or someone you know would benefit from meeting up with other ex-armed forces personnel, email: firstname.lastname@example.org or a message on Facebook: www.facebook.com/milwsoh