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Veteran Raul Vene
Raul Vene– Wermo AS manager
What has your career been like in the Defence Forces (where have you served and for how long)?
A total of 13 years, most of which I served at the Defense Forces Battle School in Meegomäe, Võru.
I have had the following positions: squad leader, chief of the senior NCO course, operations officer, plans officer, chief of the training department and after the merger with Estonian National Defence College, the chair of tactics profession senior teacher/supervisor.
I spent 4.5 years studying at the military school due to system changes.
When and which mission or missions did you go on?
The first mission was in Kosovo in 2003 as the BALTSQN-7 Reconnaissance Team Leader and the second in Afghanistan in 2009 as the Operations Officer of the Southern Region Division Headquarters.
Why did you decide to go on a mission?
In 2003, mission and participation seemed like uncharted territory and thus my interest was above average.
Admittedly, I didn’t have many acquaintances who could have said more about the missions.
So I had to figure it out myself. As a coincidence of positive circumstances, I managed to do it. I was the only one who got into the intelligence unit outside of the ROC (some were actually recruited from the reserve after the training).
The urge to go on missions was great at that moment.
2009 in the pre-mission training, I was going to Kosovo again, but it so happened that after successful negotiations and agreements, I was still able to get to Afghanistan.
Mainly for the same reasons – I didn’t know what was really going on there.
It was a great desire was to gain the experience of an operations officer, and what could be better than practicing it in reality.
What is your profession today?
From the time I left the Defence Forces in 2011 until today, I have been working as a manager in a successful furniture manufacturing company AS Wermo.
The company currently has 60 employees, and the lion’s share of the production is exported to various Scandinavian and Central European countries.
Since 2014, I have been the leader of the Furniture Cluster of South-East Estonia that unites 31 wood processing companies and furniture producers from South Estonia.
As a social activity, I contribute to the development of PMKK (woodworking and furniture production competence center) by being part of the management board.
What is your connection with the Defence Forces today?
I am connected to the members of the Defence Forces and Defence Forces itself through my hobby, i.e. shooting sports, by belonging to the Defence Forces Sports Club.
I have remained in contact with several of my former colleagues.
I have considered joining the Defence League, but with the workload in Wermos, I have not yet found the time to pass on what I have learned and acquired.
I wish to begin that one day and contribute to the development of Defence League’s activities.
What was the main takeaway from the mission experience? How did this affect choices later in life?
Coping with routine work, consistency and courage to make important decisions quickly. I was able to test my stress tolerance and also my coordination and management skills were honed.
Realizing the fragility of human life certainly made me value loving and caring human relationships much more.
All in all, the experiences I gained during the missions have proven to be very important for all my future life endeavors.
Which skills and experiences gained on the mission have been useful later on,
in work or social life?
Planning and preparation are the keys to success in business organization and production. Planning several steps ahead. The ability to look at oneself and one’s actions through the eyes of the client (when in the Defence Forces, through the eyes of the opponent). The ability to analyze information. The ability to distinguish the important from the unimportant. The ability to make the right decision in a stressful situation and making new and even better plans in changing situations.
How many people outside of your closest circle know that you’ve been on a mission/missions?
I think not everyone knows. Although, due to my big and stocky build, I am often asked if I am a military man. My answer that I was in the Defence Forces for 13 years is usually followed by the question of whether I have been on missions. I am also often considered a soldier when traveling outside the European Union countries where they ask me this already upon entering the country.
What is the first reaction of people when they hear that you have been a member of the Defence Forces and have been on a mission?
I returned from Afghanistan just before the New Year’s celebrations, and when people talked about my darkened skin color, I was asked, “You wont cut us while inebriated?
How did you find the courage to go? How scary was it? Have you shot at a person? What did the family think and how did they allow it?“ etc.
What do you think or feel when you see people wearing the Blue Hepatica pin?
I’m certainly wondering whether the persons who wear the blue Hepatica know why they are doing it? I believe that with each year more becomes known about it and my respect to all those who honor veterans. I also thank the awareness spreaders of this campaign.
Is there someone you think of or salute when you wear a Blue Hepatica pin?
Am I doing this saluting literally, but there are many good comrades I think of and remember the times we spent together, but also those with whom we will never meet again.
What do you wish for your fellows and the entire Estonian nation on this Veterans Day?
I wish for my active comrades in the Defence Forces purposeful development and common sense. For the comrades in the reserves I wish success in their undertakings; full support and commitment of loved ones to those on missions.
That Estonia’s state leaders would pay more attention to veterans and especially injured soldiers, and a noticeable increase in supporting their future lives!
Courage to the Estonian people to notice and support the veterans who returned with health problems, even with a kind word; more love and respect for one another!
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