At the start of every Station Recall Day the Padre asks, ‘Who thinks this is a waste of time?’ And at least a quarter of the room stick up their hands; it probably would be more if folks didn’t think it was a trick question.
For those not in the know, Station Recall Days are for those personnel who have been deployed and have newly returned. Its purpose is to talk through the process of coming home, some of the emotions that entails and the adjustments that individuals and families have to make, whether they are returning. It seeks to reassure people that coming home isn’t always as easy as we think it might be and gives them advice on who to contact should they or someone they work with need extra support. Delivered by the Station Chaplains and supported by representatives from SSAFA, and other specialists the programme is frequently refreshed and updated to keep it as relevant as possible. The constants are the informal and relaxed approach, the witty delivery, and a free lunch for those who attend. Attendees also get the rest of the day off to spend as they wish.
So the question may be, why do the hands go up? Well, thankfully most of those who come back from theatre settle in quickly, they have no problems and the thought of yet another mandatory day spent out of work being briefed is more of a stress than a joy. Yet after each session there are always a couple of people who seek help that want to talk or need some information. It is for them that the Station Recall Day is run but the team does not know who they are at the start of the day, they may not even know themselves, so the RAF has made the session mandatory.
Giving that explanation at the end of the day, the Padre asks a similar question, ‘If you knew that someone would really benefit from what we have done here would you say that it was a waste of your time?’ And in an act of solidarity, sacrifice and care not one hand is lifted.
Padre Craig Lancaster