By Scott Costen
Adam Doggett’s military career owes a lot to a bookmark from his sister and a signature from his mother.
“It started off when my sister brought home a (recruiting) bookmark from a career day,” recalls the 28-year-old Liverpool resident.
Only 16 at the time, Doggett needed a parent’s signature to start the application process to join the West Nova Scotia Regiment, an army reserve unit whose headquarters are at Camp Aldershot near Kentville.
“My mom didn’t want me to join,” he says. “I fought her tooth and nail on it. I even told her at Christmas the only thing I wanted was for her to sign the paper. She resisted, but she finally signed it.”
And so, on July 13, 2006 — less than a week after his 17th birthday — Doggett was sworn into the Canadian Armed Forces.
More than 11 years later, he continues to serve with the “West Novies,” as they are affectionately known. In fact, he was recently elevated to the rank of Master Corporal and received a commendation for his “considerable leadership skills” and “unfailing dedication, loyalty, and devotion.”
Another Queens connection
As luck would have it, another Queens County resident — former Mayor and MLA John Leefe — was there to administer Doggett’s promotion from Corporal to Master Cpl.
“I was given the opportunity to present him with his new rank badges,” says Leefe, who has served as Honorary Colonel of the West Nova Scotia Regiment for nearly six years. “It was nice to do that with a local guy.”
Doggett’s commendation came from his commanding officer and regimental sergeant-major. It was one of only a few commendations awarded by the regiment this year.
“He’s respected for his quiet leadership within his platoon and his section,” Leefe says. “He’s serious and dedicated. He gets things done.”
‘At first it’s kind of tricky, but eventually it just becomes second nature.’
As an army reservist, Doggett must strike a fine balance between his part-time military commitments and his full-time civilian job as a groundsman with Lucas Tree Experts.
Reservists are expected to work one night a week and one weekend a month. Full-time employment is available in the summer, when most basic, occupational and leadership courses are held.
Most of Doggett’s “parade nights” — as evening training sessions are known — are held just outside Bridgewater in the headquarters building of 143 Construction Engineering Flight. Weekend and summer employment can take place in local communities, at Camp Aldershot or at Canadian Forces Base Gagetown in New Brunswick.
“At first it’s kind of tricky,” Doggett says of meeting the demands placed on Canada’s citizen soldiers. “But eventually it just becomes second nature.”
Having an understanding spouse is an important part of that process, he says.
In Doggett’s case, that means his wife Alyssa, a practical nurse at Queens General Hospital. The couple have a 14-month-old son named William.
Reserve service has its benefits
Doggett, who says he’ll “probably never leave” the West Novies, is surprised more Queens County residents haven’t joined the army reserve.
“We do stuff in the reserves that you’d have to pay to do in the civilian world,” Doggett says. “Like going to the range. They’re paying me, feeding me and giving me ammo to shoot with.”
While he hasn’t been overseas with the army, he has been to some far-flung training locations.
“I was down in Virginia twice. That was a lot of fun,” he says. He also spent 10 days in Wainwright, Alberta. “That was almost like a camping trip. A strange camping trip, but a lot of fun.”
There are also intangible benefits to part-time military service.
“Being in the infantry, you learn what you can accomplish no matter how hard it is or how complicated it is,” he says. “It started off as a part-time job for me, but it turned into more than that. Your fellow soldiers are family.”
According to Leefe, good pay and guaranteed employment are just a couple of the financial incentives to sign on the dotted line.
The reserves have their own pension plan, he says, and qualified members are eligible for tuition assistance of up to $2,000 a year for four years. “It’s a terrific opportunity for young men and women.”