The Powerhouse Behind Military Life: Beyond Service Awards Finalist Beck Rayner
A natural storyteller and a passionate advocate for defence partners, Beck Rayner is the woman behind the Military Life community and the Military Life podcast. The 39-year-old has been a navy spouse for more than half her life but it took her a decade to find her place in the defence community. Now the mum of three is on a mission to ensure no other partner feels left out.
“For the first 10 or so years of my military spouse journey I felt disconnected from the defence community,” she said. “I didn't have anyone who I could relate with, who supported me, who I could connect with, who just got what defence life was and what being a defence spouse was about.” In that time Mrs Rayner lived apart from her husband on and off while she pursued her career in broadcast radio journalism and communications. “We came to a point where it was either we do something different or we will probably separate because of the disconnection I was feeling living defence life,” she said. “I made the decision to leave my career in Sydney and move to be where my husband was posted (in Nowra). “And when I moved ... I found the defence community. “People who got the challenges, the celebrations of living defence life and acknowledged and valued the experience of being a spouse.”
It was that feeling of belonging that inspired Military Life.
“It started from (the support) I had found and wanting to provide that for every other defence partner,” Mrs Rayner said.
“Especially for partners who may not have been able to connect in or felt able to access what existed because they didn't feel like they fit.
“I wanted everyone, whether they’d been a defence partner for two weeks or 20 years, to be able to connect and belong in their community.”
In 2018, when Mrs Rayner’s husband was posted to a ship and she remained in Nowra with their daughters, she decided to focus solely on Military Life.
“I thought, okay, while he's away I'll just give it a go and see what happens,” she said.
“But I knew deep down that the online communities and the podcast were a great idea, and that people wanted it and needed it.
“So I took that leap of faith and it was all self-funded from the start.”
Mrs Rayner was soon joined by financial partners who enabled the podcast to become financially viable.
The Military Life community now includes a website with a Defence Partner Information Hub, where spouses can find essential information explained in simple terms, social media groups for virtual meetups and support, and a podcast, which has achieved 77,000 downloads.
Mrs Rayner said the podcast allowed her to continue her passion for journalism and storytelling.
“I had left my career in Sydney and there was no way at the time of me connecting back in with that career that I had built,” she said.
“So a podcast just seemed like the perfect fit.
“I wanted to tell the stories of those defence partners who are often in the background but are the key and an integral part of any defence family, holding that defence family together.”
Military Life also includes a newly expanded Community Connectors Program.
“The program is made up of 10 voluntary military spouses around the country who act as … that friend you can connect with before you post to or while you're posted to a location,” Mrs Rayner said.
“They can offer support, connection, information and friendship online and also via face-to-face connection events.”
Mrs Rayner said the biggest struggle Military Life faced was changing the narrative around who defence spouses are to not only the wider community but also the defence community.
“That’s done through telling the stories of the variety of defence partners that are out there doing a variety of different things, and all making defence life work for them,” she said.
“If we’re not able to hear those stories, other defence partners might not necessarily see that they are able to post and have their careers or manage kids with defence life.
“You can't be what you can't see.”
And Military Life’s greatest success?
“The biggest achievement … is the impact that I have on even just one defence partner,” Mrs Rayner said.
“Like when a defence partner will get in contact with me and tell me … they didn't know how they would have continued living defence life or started living defence life if they hadn't found Military Life.
“Because I know personally how lonely and how isolated it can be when you aren't connected and you don't feel like you belong.”
Visit Beck's business: https://www.militarylife.com.au
With thanks to freelance copywriter and ADF partner Courtney Snowden. Find Courtney on LinkedIn.
Beyond Service Awards
An initiative of the Prince’s Trust Australia Enterprise programme, the Beyond Service Awards are designed to celebrate the entrepreneurial achievements of Australia’s veteran and family business community.
The Awards are an opportunity to recognise the depth and breadth of skills and experience veterans and Defence Force families bring to Australia’s small business landscape.
The 2022 Beyond Service Awards are proudly sponsored by Gold Sponsor Commonwealth Bank of Australia, and Silver Sponsors PwC Australia and BAE Systems Australia.
For a full list of the Beyond Service Awards finalists, visit here.