Joined at 40, Supply Technician likes mix of stability and excitement

Article / April 23, 2018 / Project number: 18-0124

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By Michelle Savage, Army Public Affairs

Ottawa, Ontario — Got all your gear, fuel and rations? Thank your Supply Technician.

This Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) trade is diverse, allowing its technicians to experience a variety of different jobs throughout their career.

No two Supply Technicians will have the same experience, according to Sergeant Cheryl Crispin. In 2002, she joined the Canadian Army Regular Force at the age of 40, looking for a career that would provide both stability and excitement.

“I was working in healthcare where it took time to work your way up to a full-time position. My husband was in the military and when we got posted, I would have to start all over again. I was just looking for something that had job security. I also wanted something that was a little bit more exciting, adventurous and would get me out of the office environment.”

This variety is what sold Sgt Crispin on the trade. “I think the main attraction was that there are many different aspects to supply:  procurement, warehousing and stocktaking to name a few. You are always faced with a new challenge, which keeps the job interesting.”

Supply Technicians ensure that CAF operations have all of the required supplies and services available. Their role is essential for operations to run smoothly. Everything from clothing to fuel, they deal with a wide variety of materials. This allows for an exciting career that continually provides Supply Techs with the opportunity to learn more.

While Sgt Crispin is an Army member, her trade allows her to work with the Army, Navy or Air Force, depending on the needs of the CAF, increasing the possibility of new horizons.

Although born and raised in Petawawa, Ontario, Sgt Crispin did not grow up in a military family. However, she married a Military Police officer and had knowledge of the organization.

“My husband was in the military for 14 years before he joined the RCMP, so I knew what the military was about,” Sgt Crispin said. “He was able to answer a lot of questions I had when I was thinking about joining. I also researched trades on the website so I became more familiar with what the supply trade was all about.”

Those who wish to become Supply Techs must complete Basic Military Qualification (BMQ) training before moving on to occupation training at Canadian Forces Base Borden.

Sgt Crispin anticipated that her age would add a degree of difficulty to her BMQ training. To help combat this, she began training as soon as she made the decision to join, preparing herself for the physical challenge ahead.

Being the eldest in her group, other soldiers would view her as a mother-type. “That could be hard,” she says. “I was just as stressed as anyone else.”

After her training was complete, Sgt Crispin was posted to Comox, British Columbia, where she worked in a warehouse for airplane spare parts before moving to customer service and procurement.

Her following posting was also in procurement. “I was a Supply Manager in Ottawa from 2006 to 2012 at the national level and then I was a local procurement clerk at Canadian Forces Station Leitrim.” In her previous posting in Toronto – and her current posting in Vancouver with National Defence Quality Assurance Region (Vancouver) – she provides logistical support for civilian contractors in a shared office space, not on a base.

Sgt Crispin completed two deployments to Afghanistan. During her first tour in 2007, she was a Supply Tech for Vehicle Technicians in Kabul. In 2011, she worked in the contracting cell in Kandahar.

“We had various contracts opened and as the tour came to an end, we were closing out those contracts. As the base was winding down, we would still action customer’s requests. To do their job to bring the tour to a close, they may have needed certain equipment, such as a crane. So we would go out and raise short-term contracts or one-time jobs.”

She notes that deployments can differ from ordinary day-to-day activities. “When deployed, you are usually working at a much higher pace with longer working hours with very little time off. And of course when you’re overseas, you are ‘soldier first’. Your trade comes in second. You may be involved in convoys and other taskings that are not supply tech-related.”

Sgt Crispin had the opportunity to participate in several taskings in Canada. These assignments gave her the opportunity to see different parts of the country and engage with new communities.

She provided security to the CAF team to which she was attached during the 2010 Vancouver Olympics.

She also participated in two three-week operations in Canada’s North, first in Alert, Nunavut in 2004 with Operation BOXTOP, which is a twice-annual CAF mission to bring supplies to that remote location. The second one was Operation NANOOK in Iqaluit in 2008, where she ensured that those on operation had what they needed.

“In Iqaluit, we even put on a Fun Day to get some interaction with the community. That’s something the military is good at—getting the community involved, showing them what we do. It makes for a fun time.”

Sgt Crispin’s eagerness to volunteer for deployments and exercises did not go unnoticed. In 2012, she received the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal after being nominated by her civilian supervisors. The award honoured contributions and achievements of Canadians.

According to Sgt Crispin, who is in her 16th year as a Supply Tech, an ideal candidate for this trade is someone with strong organizational skills. “It makes your job much easier on a day-to-day basis. It’s also necessary to be able to work independently. You need initiative. And just a positive attitude.”

Quick Facts about Supply Technicians in the Canadian Army:

  • Supply techs may work for the Royal Canadian Navy, the Canadian Army or the Royal Canadian Air Force.
  • All Supply Techs are required to complete Basic Military Qualifications at the Canadian Forces Leadership and Recruit School in Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu, Quebec. This training is in basic skills and knowledge common to all trades.
  • They must then complete 70 days of Basic occupational qualification training in Borden, Ontario. Here they will learn the trade specific skills they will use throughout their careers. Some of these skills include supply operations, material and services procurement, budget management and supply-related administrative and support functions.
  • Some Supply Techs may have the opportunity to further their skills through specialty training, such as parachute packer/rigger, hazardous material packaging and storage and packaging.

Along with the excitement and variety that comes with being a soldier and a Supply Tech, Sgt Crispin also enjoys having the opportunity to further her skills.

“There are always training opportunities, which better you, not just as a supply tech, but as a soldier and a person. The opportunities are there. If you want to further your education, you can. The Military gives you so many opportunities to improve.”

Reflecting on her career with the Canadian Army, Sgt Crispin is happy with her decision to join. “I had the chance to travel both inside and outside of Canada and meet a lot of good people along the way. It’s been a rewarding career and I take away a lot of good memories.”

“I’m proud to serve.”

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