Former Army Sergeant enjoying life in Civvy Street

Stephen McCue is a former Sergeant in the Royal Armoured Corps. In 2009 he sustained serious injuries while in Afghanistan after his armoured vehicle was hit by an IED. He was medically discharged in 2013 and although he initially struggled during his resettlement period - he really enjoyed moving into civvy street and now has a successful career.

As a Sergeant in the Royal Armoured Corps, Stephen’s job involved managing a store which included all the signals equipment, as well as running a booking system for a training department. Through his 19-year service, Stephen said he had a number of highlights and notable achievements, including a deployment in Afghanistan and a posting at the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst. He said: “I was a section commander out in Afghanistan, leading a section of four Vikings (armoured vehicles) which was a great experience. I was also posted to the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst for two years where I received a Commandant’s Commendation while I was there.”

Due to injuries sustained in Afghanistan in 2009, Stephen was medically discharged in 2013. Stephen explained: “I was commanding an armoured vehicle which struck an IED, resulting in a catastrophic hit to the vehicle. I broke both legs and my jaw in the explosion and the driver broke his ankle.” Stephen stayed in the Army for four more years - being promoted to Sergeant during that time. “My aim was always to get to the Sergeant’s mess when I was in the military and I achieved that. I had a period of time knowing that my time was coming to an end in the Army, I was only three years short of my 22-years anyway, so I already had a lot of plans in place.”

The 39-year-old was eligible for the full service programme offered by the Career Transition Partnership during his resettlement and took advance of the CTP’s workshops. However, he said he did not do any further courses as they were aimed at those medically fit. “I did not feel the courses were aimed for those who were not fully fit and were not suitable for what my injuries would allow me to do, so in the end I just spent the time job hunting,” he said.

I am a hell of a lot more ambitious, more driven, because I feel like I have been given a second chance and not to waste it. I push that towards my kids, who I tell – ‘you have got to do your best all the time’.
— Stephen

The last few years in the Army had their challenges, but Stephen was able to move seamlessly into a job within a couple of weeks of leaving the Army. Stephen said: “My wife is convinced I have a small strain of PTSD, as I can fly off the handle at certain things. A lot happened in the short years after my injuries, from getting married, having kids, leaving the forces, finding a new job, there was a lot of change from doing the same thing since leaving school. It was difficult but you have to get on with it and do your best.

“I have really enjoyed moving into civilian street, I have had no major problems. Some of my anger issues, I had those while in the military after coming back from Afghanistan but I have managed to get myself a good job, with a really good company, who are mentoring me to go forward. I see what I have achieved as a positive, rather than anything else and I tend not to look at anything negatively.”

I have really enjoyed moving into civilian street, I have had no major problems.
— Stephen

Stephen now works for Merseytravel, starting off as a store keeper - but has been promoted to the Works Planner, where he plans all the planned and corrective maintenance for seven different teams within the company. He said there are a number of key transferable skills he has brought over from the military that have helped within the role and has never found it difficult to bring those experiences across.

He is keen to help others who may be going through a tough military transition and offers this advice: “The biggest thing is you have to forget the way you were treated in the military - you don’t leave with the rank you were in there with. I left as a Sergeant on a really good wage and then went into a job with a 45% drop in my wage, but the way I looked at it was the job was giving me my first experience in civvy street. So from taking that step back allowed me to then push forward fairly quickly to then progress into a role on a similar grade. Also, the hardest thing is selling yourself, never in the military do you say, ‘I’m the best at this’ - you rarely blow your own trumpet. It is ingrained that you never do that. But if you don’t do that in civvy street - you don’t get on. If you can’t tell people what you’ve achieved - you will get left behind.”

The father-of-three said Veterans’ Gateway is a “great idea”, as a support service that acts as a single point of contact, will help those who do not know what support is available and who can help.

Since getting back from Afghanistan in 2009, Stephen said he feels like he has been given a second chance. “I was never particularly ambitious in the Army, I just wanted to make sure I enjoyed what I was doing. But now, I am a hell of a lot more ambitious, more driven, because I feel like I have been given a second chance and not to waste it. I push that towards my kids, who I tell – ‘you have got to do your best all the time’.”

To find out more about Veterans' Gateway click here.