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Veteran Jaanus Kala
Jaanus Kala – an athlete, Jaanus Kala pentathlon organizer
What has your career been like in the Defence Forces (where have you served and for how long)?
Conscript 1993 -1994 in Kuperjanov, Junior NCO course (3 months) in Meegomäe Battle School, the length of the military service was 12 months at that time. In June 1996, I joined the Peacekeeping Operations Center.
When and which mission or missions did you go on?
In March 1997, we had 2 months of training in Denmark as part of ESTPLA-4, and then I was in Bosnia for 6 months. My career ended after the mission.
My rank was sergeant. In 2002, I went to refresher training for 2 weeks, and also received the rank of Sergeant OR-5.
Why did you decide to go on a mission?
The main reason for going on a mission was unemployment and related to that the opportunity to earn more money. I also wanted to challenge myself and see the world, as I had never been abroad before.
What is your profession today?
I work in AS Antsla Inno. Antsla Inno is located in Antsla and produces upholstered furniture employing two hundred people.
Personally, I work in the cutting department. In total, I have been working here for 11 years during different stages of my life.
What is your connection with the Defence Forces today?
The connection with the Defence Forces today is like this- I am following the actions of the Defence Forces and the Defence League, albeit passively. I am ready to join, but at the same time I hope that I don’t have to.
What was the main takeaway from the mission experience? How did this affect choices later in life?
The mission experience gave me many new acquaintances, friends, experiences, patience, routine and stress tolerance, etc.
One big thing that still connects me with the mission is Jaanus Kala pentathlon.
Namely, in the smoking corner at the Dannevirke camp, I was thinking about how to get together with my group mates after the mission.
In different years, the idea of athletics pentathlon has brought almost half of ESTPLA-4 men, in addition to many other members of the Defence Forces, to play sports and have a good time afterwards in Antsla.
The event has been held 18 times already. In 2012, I was selected as a torch bearer during the London Olympic Games, for organizing the pentathlon, so you could say I became famous because of the mission.
Which skills and experiences gained on the mission have been useful later on, in work or social life?
I think that all the skills and experiences came in handy for me personally, both at work and in my private life.
How many people outside of your closest circle know that you’ve been on a mission/missions?
Most of the people in the neighborhood know and the majority of acquaintances.
What is the first reaction when people hear that you have been a defence soldier and have been on a mission?
The reactions are surprised, positive and sympathetic. I always emphasize that compared to the missions in Iraq and Afghanistan, the mission in Bosnia was like night and day.
What do you think or feel when you see people wearing a Blue Hepatica pin?
I think it’s great that such a thing has been invented and there are many others who think the same.
What do you wish for your fellows and the entire Estonian nation on this Veterans Day?
On Veteran’s Day, I wish to my comrades – it’s great that you’re there, keep the flag high, don’t dwell too much in the past but look more into the future.
To the people of Estonia – the blue hepatica is a symbol of veterans, let’s place it on our chests while thinking about and supporting the injured and dead servicemen and their family members.
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