Meet RAF Reservist Ben Hoe

June 21, 2023
 / 
Reserves Day logo

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 21, 2023, 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.

RAF Reservist using machine gun
RAF Reservist Ben Hoe firing the General Purpose Machine Gun (GPMG).

Ben Hoe is a 20-year-old Reservist with Lossiemouth-based 2622 (Highland) Sqn RAuxAF. He lives in Elgin, Moray.

What’s the best part of being a Reservist?

“The best part of being a Reservist is that you have two careers. You get to enjoy a military and a civilian career. Being able to take part in military opportunities on your down time from civilian life and go back to work on Monday and tell everyone about it. You are given opportunities to learn new and interesting skills and sports whilst being paid.  

“You get to meet people from all walks of life and enjoy a shared interest in the military. I have worked along side business CEOs, doctors and mechanics. It is so interesting to sit and learn about people and get a bigger understanding of life.”

Where has your Reservist career taken you?

I am just home from a military deployment where I mobilised with a regular regiment squadron for six months, I did two-months of PDT (Pre-deployment training). I got to expand my skills and learn more about my role as a regiment gunner. Putting all my military training into practice and realising just how much I have learned over the years. It was good to work alongside regulars and deploy too somewhere I had never been before.”

Do you have a favourite moment?

“During PDT from my deployment, I took part in public order training. Where we were trained in how to handle an angry crowd. This is my favorite part of my military career so far because we were shown how aggressive the military can be and I got to experience something very different and new.”

Man cleaning a mirror.
Ben works as a housekeeper at the Premier Inn, Elgin.

Tell us about your civilian job.

“I am currently a housekeeper at a hotel, it is my job to clean rooms and make sure the hotel Is presentable for guests coming to stay with us. I am also going through the application process to become a police officer with Police Scotland. Being part of the RAuxAF has really helped me prepare for my police training and get a good insight into the standard I will be expected to perform at.” 

Being a Reservist requires time off work, how does your employer support those demands?

“Employers benefit from having a member of their team in the Reserves and understand that if I ask for time off to do my military contract then I am doing it for a reason. My employer also sees how happy I am when I come back from my training and tell them all about it. They see I am passionate and try to give me time off when I need it. There are some situations where they can’t give me the time off I need, and the Reserves are understanding of this. The Reserves usually operate during weekends to allow Monday to Friday workers to attend without disrupting much of their civilian career. For me however, I could be given shifts on the weekend. I am normally able to swap shifts with my colleagues to get the time off, however sometimes I am not able to get days off. Once I tell my chain of command this within the Reserves they understand and if it is something I cannot afford to miss they will get me to come in on my own time and do the training that took place that month.”

What skills have you gained as a Reservist that enhance your civilian role?

“Attention to detail. In my current role at the hotel, I have to keep a high standard of cleanliness, I have learned more respect for myself and others and if I am asked to do something I have learned to understand there is a reason that I might not see or understand,

“I hold myself better, I have learned the self confidence that the military gives you and seen how far I can push myself. Some jobs I would shy away from and think, “I can’t do that” but now I have learned to give things a try, and surprise myself when I succeed. The Reserves have taught me to push myself, to be more confident in talking to people. To have more of a can-do attitude. These skills are desired by employers and helped me in my career to get opportunities and responsibilities that would have never been open to me. 

“These skills I have learned within the Reserves will stick with me no matter what career I end up going into. They are vital skills to have.”

What would you tell a colleague who was interested in becoming a Reservist?

“Do it. Try it. What have you got to lose? You will learn so much about yourself. 

“There is no downside to becoming a Reservist. You get out of it what you put into it. You want to travel or deploy? Sign up to do that. Are you interested in learning a new unique skill? Sign up to that. 

“Becoming a Reservist is about making your comfort zone bigger. No matter where you are in your life or what you want to achieve, the Reserves can help you do that.”

Firing a machine gun.
RAF Reservist Ben Hoe firing the General Purpose Machine Gun (GPMG).