In the Canadian Armed Forces, there three separate messes exist:
- Officers Mess (commissioned officers)
- Warrant Officers and Sergeants Mess
- Junior Ranks Mess.
On many bases, the messes are considered “home” for those who live in quarters. They are also the centre of social life and promote a sense of community on the base or ship. They would be the equivalent to a civilian country club or social club.
Mess activities do not receive funding from taxpayers dollars. Military members have a certain amount deducted from each month’s pay as mess dues. This usually shows up on the pay statement under the NPF (non-public funds) deduction.
Ordinary mess members are those who pay dues to the mess through their military pay. Other classes of membership exist depending on the mess, including Associate Members and Honorary Members. These types of members can be retired military personnel or other civilians who wish to join. Depending on the bylaws of the particular mess, other membership categories have different privileges than Ordinary Members.
Spouses are not mess members unless they too are in the Forces and paying mess dues. If spouses are of different rank, they pay dues to different messes. This does not entitle them to membership in their spouse’s mess, only their own.
Managed as not-for-profit associations, messes have a constitution, bylaws, policies. They have an Annual General Meeting where the Mess Committee discloses the financial statements and other business to the mess membership. The Mess Committee is lead by the PMC (President of the Mess Committee). There is also a VPMC (Vice-President), Secretary, Treasurer and various other committee members depending on the mess bylaws.
Messes are steeped in tradition many of which go back hundreds of years. It is important to respect and honour those traditions. Messes will have paintings of battles and portraits of significant commanding officers hanging on the walls. There will be display cases filled with artifacts from various battles in which the regiment fought. Again, these are revered artifacts and should be treated as such.
I have very much enjoyed any time I’ve spent in various messes. It is an amazing place to learn unique facts about Canadian history and see artifacts and hear stories and learn things beyond what you would see in a museum.
What do you enjoy about the mess?
Photos and floor plans of almost all of the models of RHU (residential housing units) (aka PMQs) are posted on the Canadian Forces Housing Agency (CFHA) website! It is so nice to have the floor plan of the house prior to moving into it.
Transfer the measurements of those floor plans to the Icovia Room Planner to create the layout of the rooms in your house. Print them out and post them on the doors and the movers will know exactly where to put all of the furniture!
I was over on Linda Samuels’ blog providing my input about Clutter Management Tips. My point was, if it costs less to repurchase than it does to move, don’t move it.
I know the military pays for moving the HG&E but tell me, do you really want to move a scratched up non-stick frying pan? What about that rusty muffin tin? The toilet brush that is falling apart?
I thought not. If you declutter prior to moving you’ll save time during packing and loading.
Our posting message has arrived. We’re moving to England! We’ll be there for the next three years. My husband will be working with NATO while we are there.
He is very pleased about this exciting opportunity and as a family we’re looking forward to the adventure of living in another country.
I visited England on an exchange when I was in secondary school and I very much enjoyed my time there. I am looking forward to exploring the country!
The kids have already discovered that Gloucester Cathedral, near our new home, was the site for filming several scenes of Hogwarts from the Harry Potter movies so that will probably be our first tourist stop.
It will be very easy for us to tour around Europe too. I am very excited for the children to be exposed to such rich and diverse cultures.
Anyway, as we learn more about how we go about an international move, I’ll keep writing. I know there will be a lot of work involved and I want to share everything I learn with my readers.
Who else is posted and where? Are you excited about it?
There’s a great article from New Leaf Organizing about Making Plans for Summer Vacation. They also hold true if you happen to be going on an HHT or DIT!
You’ve rearranged the furniture in your house every possible way already.
You don’t need a map to get around town anymore and you can even find all the obscure streets.
You’ve made the electoral list for the city in which you live.
The flowers and plants in your garden are really starting to look good.
The cashiers at the local grocery store recognize you – even when you’re not shopping at the grocery store.
You start to see people out of context for example you see your child’s old music teacher at the accountant office.
You go to a community event and you know more people than you don’t know.
What signs to do notice when you’re ready to be posted?
A couple of my readers have contacted me and asked me about “screening messages.” For those of you who are unfamiliar with this term, a screening message is a notification sent to a military member prior to posting or deployment.
This message details all of the requirements prior to a posting or deployment. For example, a military member must ensure that he/she is up-to-date on all vaccinations. He/She must have passed a recent BFT (battle fitness test), completed first-aid training and passed a PWT (personal weapons test). The member visits health services staff to ensure there are no outstanding medical issues such as pending dental surgery. A social worker will verify that there are no family issues that would prevent the member from performing his or her duties.
If the items on the screening message are not completed, then the member may not be posted or the posting may be altered.
If the screening message is for a deployment, usually the family members have an interview with the social worker as well to ensure that there are plans in cases of emergency. The social worker also provides the family with information about respite care, emergency child care, etc.
There are military bases and stations across Canada and some of them are in remote locations with only small towns nearby. Because the civilian services around these bases may not have the social and medical supports that some military families require, the member will receive a screening message for a posting to these “remote locations”. This is to ensure that systems can be put in place for families that have special needs. (Starbuck’s coffee everyday is not a special need).
Like remote locations, those military families going on postings to foreign countries also get a screening message to ensure that their needs are taken care of outside of Canada. Questions about OUTCAN postings are answered on DND’s OUTCAN FAQ site.
Some of the difficulties with remote and OUTCAN postings that the screening process identifies. Once identified, advice and support is provided to the CF member.
Marital Status and Sexual Orientation
While Canada is very supportive of common law and same-sex marriage, not all places in the world are so open-minded. In many countries common law relationships are not recognized so the partner may not be entitled to the same benefits as a spouse. Sadly, there are many places in the world where homosexuality is banned. (it breaks my heart to even write that).
We are lucky in Canada to have a great health care system and for the most part, CF members can take their extended family members (parents, nieces, nephews) with them on a posting to a remote location. However, if extended family members require special care such as nursing care or educational support, it may not be available in smaller communities. If the CF member is going outside of Canada, that support may not be available at all or the soldier may have to pay for it out of pocket.
Education and Language Training
If children require special education or prefer education in another language, it may not be available in a remote posting or outside of Canada. Children and spouses may have to take second language training prior to moving to the new area.
There may be limited employment opportunities for spouses on posting to a remote location and in some countries the spouses are not permitted to work at all. By ensuring that you’re financially stable prior to posting, you won’t go into debt if you can’t find work right away (Easier said than done!).
You’re probably thinking that culture shock would be experienced when posted outside of Canada but you’d be wrong. Canada is a rich, culturally diverse nation and while I find that very exciting, it can be a challenge to adapt to the local culture especially if the language is different or the climate is different. The social worker will probably ask family members how they adapt to change and what strategies they have to cope.
Learn as much as you can about the area you’re going to before you get there. Learn about the climate, read online newspapers and magazines from the area. If you’re into social media, follow some local “celebrities” on Twitter, or if you’re on Facebook, “like” some pages of local businesses. My favourite is to use Google Maps Street View and drive up and down the streets.
What have you done to prepare for a remote or OUTCAN posting?