Reservists give up their spare time to serve in the Reserve Forces, balancing their civilian life with a military career to ensure that should their country require them, they would be ready to serve as part of the military.
The Reserve Forces make up approximately one sixth of our Armed Forces personnel and as such are integral to protecting the nation’s security at home and overseas, particularly providing capability in specialist areas such as medical and cyber.
Wednesday June 22, 2022, is Reserves Day – the day Reservists can wear their uniform to work – and we’re paying tribute to their hard work and dedication. After all, it’s not easy holding down two careers.
Major Ray Watt (52) is the second in command of Dunfermline-based 154 (Scottish) Regiment Royal Logistic Corps. In his day job he is one of two Regional Employer Engagement Directors with Highland RFCA in Dundee. Ray is married with a daughter and lives in Arbroath.
Tell us about your career as a Reservist, when and where did it all start, what’s your current role, and what made you want to join up?
When I left Regular service in 2009 I immediately transferred across to Reserve service in 251 (Ayrshire) Transport Squadron as the 2nd in Command of that Squadron. Now here I am working as the 2nd in Command of 154 (Scottish) Regiment RLC based in Dunfermline, Fife. I joined the Reserves as I had completed a full career in Regular service but still felt I had more to see and do and could still offer service to my country.
What’s the best part of being a Reservist?
There are so many things that give me a sense of achievement such as watching young men and women join and seeing how it transforms them and makes them more employable in civilian life. They gain qualifications, experience and a respected person who will provide a reference when they are job hunting. However I think the best part is that common identity you share with all of the members of your Regiment and Corps including the history that you are now a part of.
Where has your Reservist career taken you?
I promise I am not a recruiter, however since 2009 I have been to so many places:
Germany this year, Bavaria and Austria Adventure Training, Gibraltar twice, Cyprus, South Dakota USA and all over different areas of England and Scotland. Despite all of the great places I have named, some of the most memorable times are here in Scotland off the beaten track doing rock climbing, mountain biking and a bit of canoeing. The travel and variation of tasks makes this a very exciting career which I would recommend to anyone with a sense of adventure who would like a bit of excitement in their lives.
Do you have a favourite moment?
Looking back over a very varied and enjoyable career spanning 36 years there are so many highs and funny moments, but if I had to choose one it would be in Gibraltar. We had a task to support the local community alongside our training which was to paint the 100-ton gun. I remember taking a moment in the middle of the day looking out over the straights of Gibraltar and realising just how lucky I am to be a part of all this. I genuinely think my life would have been so boring if I hadn’t followed this path.
Tell us about your civilian job.
I am employed by Highland Reserve Forces’ and Cadets’ Association as a Regional Employer Engagement Director. It is a great job which allows me to meet great employers all around northern Scotland and support them with their desire to support the defence family. I get a real sense of purpose in that my efforts might be part of supporting a Veteran, Reservist or a family member of a serving military person to gain employment after the service they have given. I am so fortunate to be part of a great team of people who make my job so much easier with their knowledge and support. The organisation is fully supportive of my Reserve service.
Being a Reservist requires time off work, how does your employer support those demands?
As Highland RFCA is a Government organisation they provide me with special paid leave to pursue my Annual Deployment Exercise each year. If I have any other courses or needs in support of my service Highland RFCA will always give me the time I need. It is to some degree mutually supportive with regards to support from the Army Reserve in my case which is quite a unique relationship.
What skills have you gained as a Reservist that enhance your civilian role?
Whilst we all talk about transferable skills and core skills this job requires a good knowledge of the different parts involved in Regular and Reserve service. I have been the service leaver in the Career Transition partnership we now talk about. I have also been that mobilised Reservist and know what mobilisation means for the Reservist as well as the organisation so I can support companies better in their understanding of the process when required. This coupled with my IT skills, leadership and organisational skills and no shortage of good old fashioned enthusiasm have been key components in this job. There are so many more qualifications and skills which I have in my locker from Military service that are of benefit on a day-to-day basis that it would be hard to list them all.
What would you tell a colleague who was interested in becoming a Reservist?
Do it. You will never know what you are missing until you try it. With Reserve service it is flexible so can fit around your life and I believe enhance your life quality and chances. If you join and it’s not for you then you can always leave, but if you never join then you will always be wondering what you missed out on. I have met many people over the years who wished they had joined at a young age to experience what it is to be a member of the Armed Forces. They have missed that opportunity, so don’t let that be you. Get out there and make a life for yourself.
● To find out more about the Army Reserve, click HERE.