Joining the Army

Joining the Army

Joining the Army is the first step to a fulfilling career, one full of challenges and travel. The Army is keen to employ the best soldiers and LGBT men and women are encouraged to apply. Full career information can be found on the Army website.

The Forum is keen to help anyone looking to join the Army. We will put you in touch with a serving LGBT soldier or officer who works in the trade or unit that you wish to join. Your contact can give you information about training and working in the Army, as well as providing a friend who you can call on for support. Alternatively, you can read about the careers of some our soldiers below.

The Army is featured in the most recent edition of Stonewall’s Starting Out guide.

All the employers listed are members of Stonewall’s Diversity Champions programme, and are committed to making their workplaces gay-friendly.

To help you with your decision the Forum has asked several of its members to tell you about what they do on a daily basis. If you are keen to learn more about the roles on offer please get in touch using our contact page.

Army Air Corps
The Army Air Corps is the smallest of the three combat arms in the Army, but its fleet of helicopters makes it one of the most potent. Providing firepower from the skies, it has a unique role to play on the modern battlefield by delivering hard-hitting support to ground forces during the key stages of a battle.

Air Trooper Arron Sawbridge

Air Trooper Arron Sawbridge

What made you want to join the Army?
I joined the army to prove to myself that I could do something different. I also wanted the adventure, to travel the world, to meet new people and to make loads of new friends.

How did you tell your friends you were gay?
I was admitted to hospital and a friend had to collect clothes for me. When he came back he sat next to me and told me he had found some magazines (Attitude & GT) in my room. I started panicking but he said it was ok that I was gay and he wondered why I never told anyone. When I returned to the Regt people soon realised I was still the same person.

What has the Army given you that other jobs wouldn’t have given?
I have been rock climbing, kayaking, biking, skiing and white water rafting in Bavaria and Austria, and I went sky diving in California.

What’s next?
Right now I am posted in Germany as the welfare assistant, and hoping to do my door gunner course soon.

Adjutant General Corps
The Adjutant General’s Corps is one of the largest Corps in the British Army and provides support in the form of Combat Human Resources Specialists, Military Police, Military Provost Staff, Military Provost Guard Service, Educational and Training Services and Army Legal Services.

WO2 Karen Styles

WO2 Karen Styles

What is your job?
I am a combat HR specialist: one of the military clerks of the Army! We specialise in all personnel administration and are also trained to be accountants.

What is special about your cap badge?
I enjoy the interaction with the many different cap badges. I move every 2/3 yrs to a new unit & also support headquarter formations. This means that where the army are, we are.

And what do you enjoy most about the Army?
The best thing about being in the Army is the camaraderie. I get to meet new people all the time and have formed many a friendship.

Queen Alexandra’s Royal Army Nursing Corps
Queen Alexandra’s Royal Army Nursing Corps (QARANC) nurses have worked at the sharp end of military life throughout the last century of military nursing.

Nursing officers, registered nurses, healthcare assistants and student nurses of the QARANC deliver high quality, adaptable and dedicated nursing care wherever the Army needs it.

Lt Ami JohnsonLt Ami Johnson

Have you always been a nurse?
No! I joined the Army in 2005 as a soldier in the Intelligence Corps. After two years I transferred to the QARANC and went to the Defence School of Health Care Studies (DSHCS) for three years of study. Whilst there I was selected for officer training.

What does work entail?
I am posted to Frimley Park hospital and I’m currently looking forward to an upcoming deployment. My job involves nursing and I manage nursing soldiers, as well as going on exercise and deployments.

What opportunities has the Army afforded you?
I’ve been on numerous sailing expeditions, and I went on he AMS Spanish tour.

What do you do to relax?
When I’m not working I enjoy spending time with my partner and family. I’m also sports mad and take part in as many things as possible such as half marathons, cooking, and travelling. I’m also keen on rugby and hope to play at Army level in 2012.

Royal Army Medical Corps
The RAMC is responsible for maintaining the health of servicemen and women. The Corps is represented wherever British Soldiers are deployed, providing medical support to operations, exercises and adventurous training expeditions all over the world.

Possible Jobs : Combat Medical Technician, Clinical Physiologist, Doctor, Environmental Health Tech, Medical Support Officer, Physiotherapist.

Maj Damian JenkinsMaj Damian Jenkins

Is life as an Army doctor any different from that in the NHS?
Yes. The workload is varied, ranging from time spent in a regimental medical centre, where the emphasis is on general practice and health education, to time spent on exercise or operations. The nature of the job requires all Army doctors, regardless of specialty, to have some emergency medical skills. This is a great for maintaining breadth in clinical practice.

What are the perks?
The main draw for most doctors is the changing nature of the job. The variation from day-to-day hospital work is refreshing. There is also the opportunity to play sport, travel on some wacky trips (like the polar expedition), and the pay and pension are better than that offered by the NHS. Plus, the RAMC has the second highest number of Victoria Crosses so regimental pride runs high!

At what stage can you enter the RAMC?
There are a limited number of cadetships open to clinical medical students. An increasing number of people are choosing to join after qualification and do so on a 3-year contract. The TA is a popular option for those who want to get away on exercise and operations whilst maintaining an NHS career.

Gay, doctor, Army: does it all hang together?
Yes! The Army Medical Directorate seems to have a wider variety of people than any NHS hospital I’ve worked in.

Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers
Members of the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers (REME) are the technicians and mechanics that constantly repair and maintain the large array of equipment that the British Army has.

Capt Anne Marie DouglasCaptain Anne-Marie Douglas

Tell us about yourself…
My name is Anne-Marie Douglas, I’m a Captain in the REME posted to 1 Bn REME in Catterick. I joined the Army as an Aircraft Technician in 2002 and by 2006 I had been selected to attend Sandhurst to complete Officer Training.

What has life involved since commissioning?
I commissioned in 2007 and was posted to Germany. From there I had the opportunity to complete an in-service degree. Following that I was posted back to Catterick. Throughout my time in the Army I have felt challenged in many ways from sports through to career progression. And I learn something new everyday!

How is it being an officer and ‘out’?
I am in a long-term relationship and have had many positive experiences in the units with regards to my partner. I am interested now in helping and encouraging those who need advise or support in dealing with their sexuality.

Royal Signals
The Royal Corps of Signals are leaders in Information Technology and Communications for the British Army.

We provide the Army with communications throughout the world and promise a varied and exciting career. Royal Signals provide military commanders with their information requirements and ability to command and control their forces.

The methods used are at the forefront of modern digital military communications and information systems technology and the Corps strives to live up to its motto ‘Certa Cito’, which freely translated means ‘Swift and Sure’.

Cpl Chris MittonCpl Chris Mitton

When did you join the Army and what was your first posting?
I joined the Army in July 2003. After basic training I undertook phase 2 training at the Royal School of Signals in Blandford. Here I learned my trade as an Installation Technician.My first posting was to Cyprus. I was having the time of my life: I was a young soldier living just outside of a holiday destination, and every weekend felt like a holiday. Soon I felt I had to come out. Sitting my section down and speaking to them was nerve-wracking, but coming out was a big burden off me, and I felt that I was enjoying my time in the military more.

The British Infantry is respected throughout the world and you have the choice of being part of this exceptional fighting force either full time or part time.

As a Regular Infanteer you will be a fulltime soldier, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year and paid as such. You will undergo intensive training before you join your Regiment but the training does not stop there. You will find throughout your career that you will always be training for something but all this activity keeps you fit and healthy and gives you experiences not available to most other people.

If you join the Army Reserve you can have a normal civilian job and live in the community but you will undergo the same intensive training in a condensed form. You will have the opportunity to go on exercises throughout the world and take part in adventure training just as your Regular counterparts do. You will also get the chance to serve alongside your Regular colleagues on operations such as in Iraq or Afghanistan. Currently around 10% of the Army Reserve are mobilised on operations.

Currently the Infantry provides well over 50% of those employed as Special Forces and Special Duties troops in the Army. If you think that Special Duties is something you would like to do then the Infantry will give you the skill and more importantly the time and support to achieve your goals.

Sgt Alastair SmithCpl Alaisdair Smith

Where has the Army taken you to date?
I did basic training in Bassingbourne before training at the Infantry Training Centre in Catterick. Since then I’ve worked in Tidworth, Botswana, Aldershot, Northern Ireland, Cyprus and other places. I have worked both on infantry skills, in recruiting, and as part of a Youth Team running team building exercises.The Infantry has the rep for being macho.

How did you come out?
I come out at a Corporals Mess function. Rumours had been flying round and I thought “why hide it any longer”. So I said to someone “Yeah I’m gay, is there a problem with that!”. Two of the biggest Corporals in our mess started to walk over to me, and I had a ‘Fight or Flight’ instinct, but I noticed they where both smiling. They stuck out their hands and shook mine telling me I must have been the bravest man in the world to “come out” firstly in an Infantry Battalion and secondly in the Corporals Mess.

Was the choice to come out a good one?
When I joined the Army, coming out would have meant getting kicked out, but by the time I had established myself and my Battalion found out, it no longer meant a career death sentence. As a result I was afraid to come out, got married and had children. Now my children know Daddy is gay and they all love and adore my partner.
At work no one sees my family unit as any different from any other family on the patch. The Army has always had banter and I can give as good as I get. That said I’ve never had anything malicious said to me and I have never felt any different to any other soldiers in my Battalion.

Royal Logistics Corps
From tanks and ammunition to letters and food, we get the right amount of the right kit to the right people in the right place at the right time – enabling the Army to do its job, and boosting morale along the way.

We fight logistics through to keep the army working, moving and communicating.

The RLC works all over the world, in all conditions, on land, sea and in the air, night and day, in rain, shine and snow and on mountains, deserts, built up areas and jungle terrain. We’re also experts at helping, protecting and advising civilians who get caught up in conflicts, natural disasters or any other situation where we’re needed.

Sgt Guy Lowe-BarrowSgt Guy Lowe-Barrow

Why did you join the Army?
I thought it was an organisation with great prospect for growth and progession. Also the fact that if you chose to be openly gay it has no effect on your chance of entry and and promotion.

What does your day job involve?
My day to day job is as the Kitchen Manager/SNCO Production. This involves managing a team of chefs, planning menus, maintenance of stock , customer relations, and on-the-job training of chefs. As a sergeant I also look after a team of juniors ensuring that they are up-to-date with military skills.

What are ops/exercises like?
I love going away with the Army: it’s one of the hardest work periods in my trade but also the most rewarding. You are required to produce quality meals in a field kitchen and some times using improvised cookery (using whatever is available to make ovens, stoves etc.). The food is really important: the quality and quantity of the food on Ops has a major impact on the morale of the troops.

What have you enjoyed most about being in the Army?
The variety of the job and the people I meet.