First Person: A career in the military is my goal because of my dad

Growing up in Halifax and going on the ship where my dad worked was a highlight for me. I loved going to the mess hall on the HMCS Preserver to get a Rice Krispy treat or trying on the firefighter’s personal protective equipment. I was tiny, so I always laughed at how I looked in […]
Photo: Kate Playfair
The author's time in cadets opened her eyes to the possibility of a career in the military. The experience gave her "a love for anything and everything military-related."

Growing up in Halifax and going on the ship where my dad worked was a highlight for me. I loved going to the mess hall on the HMCS Preserver to get a Rice Krispy treat or trying on the firefighter’s personal protective equipment. I was tiny, so I always laughed at how I looked in the gear.

Even though I loved going on my dad’s ship, however when it would be my birthday, I would always get sad because my dad would be away.

“It made me sad leaving when it was my daughter’s birthday, but it was a job that I had to do, and when I got back home, we would celebrate,” said my dad, David Waddell.

Once I finally turned 12 years old, I decided to join RCSCC 24 Magnificent sea cadets in Nova Scotia and start my journey being military curious. Although I didn’t like it when my dad was away for many months at a time, I was always fascinated with what he did for a career.

Throughout my time in sea cadets, I always looked up to my dad and wanted to be just like him. Being in cadets opened my eyes to what my dad did and growing a love for anything and everything military-related. It wasn’t until I was three years into joining cadets and was a part of RCSCC 319 Centurion in Ottawa that I thought about joining the military when I was older.

I am not alone in being introduced to what my father does for a career. Cpl. Amy Zehr had a different experience than me.

Zehr has served in the Air Force for seven years, but before joining the Canadian Armed Forces. Her father was in the Navy and was always deployed at sea.

“I wasn’t that close with my dad,” said Zehr, a medical supply tech at Carling campus. “He was in the Navy and away a lot, from when I was a tiny child up until I was a teenager. It didn’t really bother me to be a military child. It was great, I got to live on the base and always had friends around, I loved to go on the ship and do fun Christmas activities.”

While being a military child, Zehr got to experience what being in the military was like and wanted to pursue a career in it in the future.

Zehr said to make sure that you are mentally and physically prepared for basic training and have a support system along the way. There are challenging parts to the job as well. Especially when it comes to family life.

Master Corporal Jo Probets, a supply tech DAP 5 in Gatineau, has two sons and says that her family being posted to Quebec was quite difficult for her kids.

“What affected my kids was the postings,” said Probets.”We got posted to Quebec, and with my fully English children, there was reverse discrimination, which you can expect when moving to a fully French province. Moving was really hard, and we started to see mental health problems with them, which was really hard.”

In fact, my mother never imagined she would have married a military man.

“I initially didn’t want my husband to join the military because I liked living in the small town I grew up in, Pictou N.S., but family comes first, and we were in a tough spot financially, and I had to let him go,” said Dayle Waddell.

There have been many obstacles I have faced, and am still continuing to face with joining the Canadian Armed Forces. For instance, my anxiety has always been a major challenge for me with thinking people are always thinking negatively of me or staring at me. I am now in therapy and trying to cope with my anxiety.

My dad has always told me, “Follow your heart. Join when you’re in the right frame of mind. Focus on yourself and not other people.” He has always been my support system and I will always look up to him.

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