Trials and Tribulations - What do I do?

I have been an Air Cadet for 5 and a half years, and will be becoming a staff cadet in the next few months. I have PTSD and ADHD from things stemming from school and my early life, meaning everything I do, either at cadets or at home/school is harder and takes more effort than it would for most (ex: an hour of homework might take two hours), however I have managed to do one heck of a lot in the intervening time:

2x RIAT (one Build Team, one Comms, both long camps) (2022 & 2023)

2x NOVA (fieldcraft camps with level 3 fieldcraft) (2021 & 2022)

1x D&C (2022)

HMS Bristol Camp (2019)

2x Wing Camps (2019 & 2021)

Master Classification (early 2024)

Silver Marksman (twice) (2021 & 2022)

Silver First Aid (2021)

Silver Radio (2024)

Flying and Gliding (2022)

Bronze Leadership (pre promotion) (2022)

Instructor Cadet (2021)

OCs Challenge Cup (2022)

Outstanding Commitment Award (2021)

Yet, I’ve had my fair share of problems:

I accidentally hit a tent roof, and water ended up on the adj of my sqn (it had been raining slightly, but the sun had come out at that point). I got a three month suspension on my promotion. Fair enough, but it turned into a whole year of being told I would be promoted, yet it was ripped away for some reason or another that I cannot remember, except for the fact they were very mundane things. The last dining in night we did on the sqn, all the cadets had good things to say about me in their speeches, I got the OCs challenge cup, and a Major General called me a bit of a legend. This is all coming from my parents, the cadets themselves, and my sister (who was a cadet herself). I didn’t go, because I was sick with stress.

A few weeks after this, my sister (this is important) was supposed to go on a trip to an RAF station. She forgot about it and didn’t turn up on the day. The next time she went into cadets, she had a closed door meeting with the OC at the time, who shouted at her so loudly it could be heard 20 meters away in another closed room. Needless to say, this caused a safeguarding storm larger than a hurricane, and the old OC ended up moving sqns. I was promoted a few months later, and my sister left not long after that.

Problems solved? No. Because of the carrot beating issue over the promotion, I fell two spots in seniority on the sqn. I am the eldest and most badged (No one has higher badges apart from DofE than me on the sqn), and am most active, planning (and when I don’t get told at the last minute it can no longer happen for the fourth time in a row, even when I get other sqns staff to help) courses for the cadets on weekends (something very few people do in our sector).

I fear that I am only being recommended for Staff Cadet because the sqn is short on staff, and that I am attending often, and will be sidelined and quietly giving small things just to keep me from not leaving.

So, what do I do?

I thought I should add a few things to this in order to fill in information:

We spent two years waiting to do Senior/MAC bc we didn’t have the staff.

I have thought about a few ways to get out of the situation:

Leave - Cadets is my only social activity due to the fact I am home educated, and it would be very difficult to go somewhere else.

Transfer - Maybe it would help, but I would most likely lose my rank, the thing that I spent almost five years working to get.

Complain - After the safeguarding thing, another complaint is likely to make the situation much worse I believe.

I am also a member of a Youth Council, where (for sakes of not saying who I am, I’m not saying which), I am widely regarded as the most active and best councilor there, and a Youth Cabinet Member for Children’s Services, Education and Skills, a Deputy Member of Youth Parliament, and am running to become a Member of the National Youth Parliament.

In every other thing I have done, many people have sung praise about me and what I do. Maybe I’m being an egotist, but everyone I know who is a cadet, my leaders in the youth council, and other cadets parents have been asking questions when I tell them what’s happened to me, the constant issues.

I feel stuck, and out of options. I love being an Air Cadet, but I feel like I’m being squeezed, pushed, poked and prodded, left out, sidelined & ignored.

Isn’t that the whole point of being a staff cadet?

You’re meant to be acting up as more of a staff member to support your Squadron rather than just a cadet.

It’s the fear that I will go no further.

I am happy to be a staff cadet, and I’m happy to add an extra staff member. My issue is one of not being able to progress further and gain new quals. I want to help my fellow cadets progress further and have a easier time than I had.

I’ve taken for so many rides, told “Yes, we’ll support and help you get there!”, then, when I finally get to that point, I’ve been dropped to the curb. I am constantly given mixed messages by my sqn staff.

Forgive me for pointing out the obvious - which is that becoming a Staff Cadet IS intended to be seen as both a bit of an honour… “being invited to stay on”, rather than age out…. as well as more of an opportunity to join the staff ranks in terms of responsibilities.

But in addition to “Staff”, you are still a “Cadet”.

Although you will (or should be) treated with a greater sense of empowerment and be given a bit more autonomy; you will also be expected to take on more responsibility.

You’ve listed SO many amazing achievements; all of which you have every reason to feel very proud.

It’s obvious from what you’ve written, about how others view you, how well regarded you are, and hence what a credit you would be to your squadron.

But let’s go right back to basics…

Are you enjoying yourself, or do you view having to go to cadets two nights a week etc as a chore…?

If it’s a chore, then you need to weigh up what you’re getting out, with what you’re putting in - and what opportunities remain….?

In addition to cadets, you have your studies and your involvement in the Youth Council; do you still have much time for yourself?

If you weren’t still a cadet - what would you be using your time for instead?

If you’re enjoying it, then… what’s the problem?

The trickier side is to recognise that as you’re nearing the peak of your cadet career, there are fewer niche opportunities - the sort that typically go to cadets of your standing and experience, such as back seat rides in a Hawk etc…

Try not to overthink things… and enjoy the moment.

Perhaps by planning your own activities, you can orchestrate your own mega moment…?

Q: Are you enjoying yourself, or do you view having to go to cadets two nights a week etc as a chore…?

A: The reason I go to cadet is for the cadets. They’re the sum total gain of fun (bar the quals) I get at cadets now. The Staff on my sqn are very restrictive, to give an example. The WRO asked me for a list of all the equipment we have on sqn, and what we needed to get a HF net running. I duly did this at my next parade night. Our staff had gone out and just bought a bunch of kit, which turns out to A: Be all Dual Band VHF/UHF kit, and B: The Coax cabling being unsafe for the radio equipment that is currently there. The response I am going to get is the probably going to be the same one from when I alerted my OC the first time that Point A might be the case. “You’re wrong, but if you aren’t, the WRO is just going to have to deal with it.” This happens more often that it should. I’ve also been told to not tell him yet, because “I’ll probably get it wrong.” (Direct quote)

Q: If it’s a chore, then you need to weigh up what you’re getting out, with what you’re putting in - and what opportunities remain….?
A: Mainly Wing, Region and Corps level courses, that require Sqn approval. That’s easy enough to get, with the normal level of “Do you have time for this…” that comes across as a not more work type of cry, despite the fact in doing it, I can run courses to lower the sqn staff’s workload.

Q: In addition to cadets, you have your studies and your involvement in the Youth Council; do you still have much time for yourself?
A: Cadets is on a semi pause atm, only going once a week in weeks where there are no exams, and not at all in weeks where there are. It’s my only more than weekly activity, due to fact I’m home ed.

Q: If you weren’t still a cadet - what would you be using your time for instead?
A: I’m not sure. there are very few other opportunities in my area, and I live quite far from any sort of youth clubs/scouts/cadets.

Q: If you’re enjoying it, then… what’s the problem?
A: The other cadets make my experience fun. They’re troublemakers, but the type that make you laugh. They know when to get their heads down and focus, love learning new things, and they have never gotten me or any of the NCOs into trouble for their mucking around.

The Staff on my Sqn are slightly different. It’s tough at times, they can be quite snappy about things, even if its going to help them immensely (I.e: WRO asking for the kit list of what we have so that we can get all the kit we need for a much lower price than just buying it ourselves), and its weighing on me that it is negatively effecting the cadets and the other NCOs.

I guess my issue is that while finding new things to do is not difficult for me (I just have to wait for the summer holidays, or Special K to turn taps on for things again), give me any camp or activity and I’ll sign up if I’m eligible, and if not, I’ll make myself eligible asap so I can do it, it’s that the cadets are losing out due to the attitude of the one or two of the upper levels of staff towards running courses on the sqn.

“Try not to overthink things… and enjoy the moment.” I try the best I can.