by Donna Janda
Picture a Hollywood army movie. The drill sergeant screams in the face of a young impressionable teen, breaking them down until they are nothing but robots. Well, never fear, that’s nothing like the Royal Bermuda Regiment (RBR)!
The army of yesteryear has evolved and developed into something much more than the stereotypes portrayed in the movies. So, with the help of Major Duncan Simons, let’s bust a few myths and explore the new generation of the army, where travel, a vibrant community, and inclusion are at the forefront.
For those of you who wish you had the time to join the RBR and serve your country, but already have a full-time job that you love, never fear. The RBR is primarily a reserve battalion, so you will have plenty of time for both. The RBR is supported by full-time staff, including leaders, trainers, logisticians, and the operational Coast Guard Unit.
Yes, that’s right, there is a Coast Guard Unit! The RBR Coast Guard is responsible for round-the-clock search and rescue operations, enforcing maritime law, and providing support to various government departments. And as a bonus, members of the Coast Guard will undergo Royal Yachting Association qualifications and train to become Marine Pilots. Now, that’s an amazing opportunity!
But what if your skill is in playing instruments rather than swimming? Well, there’s a place for you, too. On land, the RBR is most visible during national ceremonial parades, where the band leads marching troops with pride. You can march to the beat of your own drum, literally.
When a disaster hits and you want to find ways to help, but you don’t know how, joining the RBR is an amazing way to learn new skills that help you protect your community. All soldiers are trained in first aid, so you will be ready when an emergency occurs. Major Simons stated that during hurricanes, the RBR “mobilises to clear roads and secure key national infrastructure, fulfilling their Humanitarian and Disaster Relief (HADR) role.”
As a soldier, you would spend most of your training time focusing on core soldiering skills, primarily in an internal security context. All of this capability is enabled by the dedicated Logistics team, who ensure that the Regiment operates independently with minimal support.
For those of you who are looking for community, joining the RBR is like joining an extended family, as undergoing military training creates a perfect environment for bonding with your fellow recruits and other soldiers. This sense of belonging is central to mental wellbeing. Furthermore, the RBR emphasizes service, duty, and purpose, which is incredibly rewarding.
Personal development is a significant part of the RBR experience. As a soldier, you will have the opportunity to learn new technical skills, undergo leadership training, and engage in life-long learning to maintain and enhance your capabilities.
But what about your physical health? Well, guess what? Joining the RBR requires you to maintain basic fitness standards, which positively impacts both physical and mental health. And as a bonus, you won’t have to struggle to motivate yourself all alone. This is one of the many areas where the community of soldiers support one another. There is a fitness club, and numerous sports teams that you can join to help you along your path.
In addition to all of these great benefits, the RBR offers various personal development initiatives, including the Junior Non-Commissioned Officer Cadre, a leadership program that prepares soldiers to become great leaders, and have responsibility of other soldiers. So, if you are a Soldier who demonstrates potential, you will be encouraged to take on leadership challenges and benefit from the wealth of opportunities available.
Now, let’s talk about travel opportunities. Major Simons wants you all to know that The Royal Military Academy Sandhurst Commissioning Course sends about two Bermudians every year to complete an 8-week training program. Can you get any better than that? As a soldier, you “will also have the opportunity to travel overseas either on training exercises, or courses, with the Regiment headed to Guyana this summer to participate in the multinational Tradewinds Exercise.”
On commissioning, these individuals are charged with leading a platoon of 26 soldiers. Additionally, the RBR provides training in first aid, Emergency Medical Responder or Technician courses, and Royal Yachting Association qualifications for Coast Guard members.
Regardless of what stage you are in your life, whether you are just graduating from high school, or you are more mature, the RBR has a place for you.
In addition to the benefits that Major Simons shared, such as first aid training, potential travel possibilities, community and lifelong bonding possibilities, Royal Yachting Association qualifications, you can also train to become a Marine Pilot, and while many of us would do this for free, you will actually be paid up to $5,000 in your first year, with increases in following years based on experience and promotions.
When you pick up the mantle and make that decision to serve your country, you will be expected to serve about 30 days a year, spread across a two-week camp, drill nights, and weekend camps. This will allow you to balance your military service with your civilian life.
Now that you are hooked, you have a couple of options to gain further information. Major Simons says that the best way to proceed is to “speak to a serving soldier, call the RBR at 238-1045 for a tour of Warwick Camp, or visit bermudaregiment.bm/join to complete an interest form. The next intake is in July, with a mid-June deadline, making it an ideal opportunity for those who have just finished high school or college.”
So what are you waiting for?
In the words of Major Simons, “There is never a bad time to join, and many who join later in life remark that they wish they had joined earlier.”
So, whether you’re a young graduate or someone with years of life experience, don’t hesitate to explore the opportunities the RBR has to offer. The army of yesteryear may have changed, but its core values remain, and the RBR stands as a testament to the growth, development, and strength of Bermuda’s military community.
Forward march into a new chapter of your life with the Royal Bermuda Regiment!