This month we bring you a special Q&A session with TechVets CEO James Murphy to reflect on this year’s Remembrance period.
How do you mark Remembrance Day?
It is a time that all my family feel is of great importance and always mark in some way. If we can, we attend a local service, as this has a nice community feel to it and often has a focus on remembering aspects of the wars and those whose lives were sacrificed with relevance to the local area.
Did the way you feel about Remembrance change after you were injured in Afghanistan?
Whilst being injured didn’t alter how I felt about remembrance, my experience in Afghanistan did. There were quite a number of lives lost during the Op HERRICK operations, and particularly my first deployment to Afghanistan during which we lost 9 members of our Battalion and many more across the battle group.
When you consider that the average age of those members of 1 Royal Anglian killed in action during Op HERRICK 6 was only 23, and 3 of them just 19 years old, it is a stark reminder of the cost of conflict and reminds us all that sacrifice does not need to be centuries past for it be at the forefront of our minds on remembrance day.
I now remember those who sacrificed their lives for the future of us all in World War I & II, but also those that have bravely stood up for what they believed in to defend those in need wherever it may be around the world in modern conflicts.
Now you’re a civilian, has marking Remembrance changed?
These days I enjoy being able to mark remembrance day whenever and however I wish but importantly with whom I wish to participate in the act of remembrance with. This is important as my family are such a huge part of my life and were always there when I needed them either pre, during or post deployments or throughout my ongoing issues with the injuries sustained on operations.
There is far less ceremonial activity for me these days and I simply get to enjoy the remarkable parades from the stands.
How does your family feel about Remembrance?
It is a very important time of year for my family – not just my immediate daily but wider family and in-laws too. There are a number of past family members who have served throughout history, some like me very recently. There are also members who are in active service.
I suppose there is much thought to those who sacrificed their lives but also hope that those we love who are serving today outlive their military careers.
How will the TechVets community be marking Remembrance?
TechVets is all about community, however I am a firm believer that all must participate in the act of remembrance however they see fit. For me it is a very personal affair and one that I feel others should not feel pressured into certain ways of formats for the day.
As always we like to focus on the strengths of veterans and those serving to showcase their continued commitment for supporting our country – making sure to highlight the value they bring to so many teams across the tech sector and cyber security industry, as well as their devoted support for the British people leaping into modern day national crisis and providing community support. The group we have in the TechVets community is a close one, with our members always ready to support the other members around them.
What will Remembrance commemorations look like in the future? Do you think we’ll stick with virtual or streamed events post-pandemic?
Personally as a person passionate about technology, there are some things that need to be experienced in person – remembrance day is one of those occasions.
However, with the advantages that technology brings, those who struggle with crowds or are unable to attend due to age or disability, streamed events can bring the events to the homes we live in which can be a wonderful opportunity to ensure all can participate as best as possible.
Over the years, have any particular Remembrance Sunday’s stuck with you and if so why?
The Remembrance Sunday of 2007 was quite a difficult one as it was shortly after my deployment to Afghanistan on Op HERRICK 6 where I received life long injuries from an adversary Rocket propelled grenade.
More importantly, this was the tour in which we had lost far too many members of our battle group – some of whom I knew particularly well. Therefore, many of my thoughts that remembrance day were heavily rooted in recent memories that were still very raw indeed.
Earlier this year, TechVets lost one of its founding members, Mark Milton. How will you and the wider TechVets community be remembering his role in contributing so much to UK service leavers in establishing the charity?
Mark Milton was such an important part of TechVets and with the other co-founders, built the TechVets community from scratch. Mark really understood the value of supporting people and often spoke to me about the amazing feeling it was when he knew an individual had found their way into an amazing new technology career because of TechVets support.
For me personally, Mark played a significant role in my early development once I left the military as he was the TechVets board member I had more contact with. He became the person I would speak to for advice on any tech related topics from the technical implementations of certain software and tools to understanding industry trends.
On the fortunate occasions I had the pleasure of meeting him for a catch up, I was drawn to his very pragmatic and frank approach to things – he had such a wealth of knowledge and experience and a frightening intellect that it was fascinating being on the receiving end of his insights.
By the time I stepped into the role as CEO of TechVets, Mark had become a great mentor, a person who I had come to rely on as a sounding board to help me make the best decisions.
Mark will certainly be remembered throughout TechVets and the wider tech community alike although I am yet to finalise anything formal yet…however plans are afoot to ensure that his life is celebrated in the most positive way.