Carly joined Kier in September 2022 in the Emerging Talent recruitment team. Carly’s husband has served in the British Army since he was 16, they’ve been married since 2019 and here she tells us her experience of being a military spouse.
“My friends and I were out one night, when I met my now-husband. He was out with his mates, and we got chatting and I learned he was in the military and had been for nine years.
“It was weeks after we met that we managed to go on our first date due to his work commitments. I understood that his job was demanding, but it wasn’t until after our second date that it really clicked about what this could mean if we wanted a future together.
“He explained that there may be certain events he wouldn’t be there for and that he’d be away from home for long periods of time, I brushed it off, only realising how much his work dominated our whole relationship as we became more serious.
“My career is really important to me, and I didn’t want his job to impact that, but you never know what is going to happen next. At any time, he could be moved to a different base, even somewhere 500 miles away from home, which would mean having to make a decision between him and my home.
“In the first two years of our relationship, my husband didn’t go on tour, so he was around a lot at the start, which fed into my initial denial about how difficult it might be. We were making all the new and exciting steps you do as a young couple; we’d just bought a house and then found out I was pregnant, and everything was great!
“Until one day before my 12-week scan, we got the news that my husband was being deployed and would be away over my due date. Although the Army tried to delay this as much as possible, it meant my husband had to leave just a few weeks before our son was born, meaning he didn’t get to meet him until he was four months old.
“It was really difficult for us both, I know my husband was gutted he wasn’t there for us and I was petrified of doing it all without him. We weren’t married at the time and so I wasn’t his next of kin or able to be his emergency contact. This caused me a lot of stress and my anxiety when through the roof worrying about what might happen to him.
“A few years later our second son was born, and luckily my husband was able to be there for his birth but did have to leave a week later! Then because of Covid, he couldn’t return until much later than planned, so my maternity leave was basically me alone with a three-year-old and a newborn, which in some ways, was even harder than before.
“I am incredibly proud of the work my husband does, but it can be incredibly lonely being at home and having to look after the boys without him, even though I am lucky to have a fantastic support network around me. So, when I was looking for a new employer, I knew how important it was that they would be military friendly and understand what commitments I have as a military spouse.
“The transition to Kier was easy, I knew they would be able to provide me the flexibility I would need not only as a military wife, but as a working mum too. In all my conversations I had with people I already knew here, the recruiters and my managers, it was clear that people were the most important factor here and flexibility was important to everyone. It was great to see senior leaders that I could relate to and were leading by example on the importance of work / life balance.
“I was moving to Kier at the same time that my eldest was starting school, and it was a worry that the transition to school would be quite emotional for him, as his emotional resilience had taken a significant dip whilst my husband was on tour. But even though I had only just started, there was no pressure on me to miss settling in sessions to help my child with that transition.
“As the only parent left at home, it’s the little things that are important to me like making sure I’m the one doing the school runs and being present for my children and I absolutely have that here. My husband’s job tries to be flexible but often it is me that has to bend, and I’m very grateful that Kier gives me the time and space I need to do that.
“It was an added bonus to find out Kier had just recently launched their official Armed Forces Network, which is fantastic that they’ve thought to include everyone who is touched by the military and not just veterans. It’s given me a support network that I can reach out to when my anxiety is really high, and plus the wide range of wellbeing benefits that are available for me to lean on too have been amazing.”