Reservist sold on life in the defence force

Private Lyndi Le Fay assists with the 66mm short range anti-armour weapon instruction during  New...
Private Lyndi Le Fay assists with the 66mm short range anti-armour weapon instruction during New Zealand Army Reserve Force infantry training. PHOTOS: NZDF
Hen Private Lyndi Le Fay is not studying the final frontier, she is relishing her role as a New Zealand Army Reserve Force soldier and encouraging other young women to follow in her footsteps.

Brought up in Queenstown, Pte Le Fay is in her final semester at Auckland University, finishing her graduate diploma in earth sciences with a focus on space science.

She has been a reservist with Auckland-based 3rd/6th battalion for nearly two years, and will soon be joining the New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) fulltime.

"Joining the reserve force seemed like a good option to get my foot in the door and understand how the military works," Pte Le Fay said.

"It’s given me the confidence, leadership skills and the ability to do something so completely different from every day civilian life."

As well as her reservist duties, Pte Le Fay is a recruiting ambassador for the NZDF, inspiring other young women to consider careers with NZDF.

She talks to female high school pupils through the Royal New Zealand Navy’s annual school-to-seas programme, which focuses on science, technology, engineering and maths (Stem) opportunities for women in the navy.

Last year, Pte Le Fay helped run the Royal New Zealand Air Force innovation challenge.

When she talks to young women about the NZDF, Pte Le Fay is very open about her own experiences studying Stem subjects and being in the military.

"I didn’t have a good experience at high school. I was not one of the popular kids.

"I focused on my study and it has led to amazing opportunities in my personal life.

"I tell people that high school isn’t everything. What you do in your life, extracurricular-wise, academic-wise, is much more important than what people think of you."

Lyndi Le Fay.
Lyndi Le Fay.
She said quite a few of the young people she had met through her recruiting ambassador role had since reached out to her via social media.

"A few have become navy officers, telling me I was the reason they joined."

Pte Le Fay said on average, reserve force training took 20-30 days a year.

"If you’re doing reserve courses it can jump up a bit. This year has been different, in that I got an opportunity to be a second-in-command during a reserves infantry corps training.

"I was very privileged to do that as a private. And it’s been a bit of a running joke because I do so much more in my roles with recruiting."

She said everyone should try their hand at life in the reserve force, even if they were a little hesitant about joining the NZDF.

"It’s a great way to learn soft skills, like team leadership and being an efficient follower. You work with a high-performing team in stressful situations, which gives you endurance, resilience and a lot of self-confidence."

"You make new friends and have really good experiences. The opportunities are just endless."

She was excited to be joining the New Zealand Army regular force in a few months’ time.

"As it happens I come from a military family. My grandparents, cousins, uncles — there’s a lot of military history in my family.

"Reserves has given me a great start, given me skills to navigate life.

"There have been situations I have got into, where having that foundation of mental fortitude has helped me get through some tough moments when things are thrown at you."