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Tattoo artist makes her mark in Army Reserves

In her day job, Shannon Ruscoe is a tattoo artist working out of a studio in Christchurch. But during select evenings and weekends she’s an Army Reserve Force soldier with the 2nd/4th Battalion, Royal New Zealand Infantry Regiment, based out of Burnham.

05 April, 2024

Private Ruscoe has recently returned from training in Waiouru, among three platoons from her Battalion and others undergoing Corps training. “I do this because I want to be able to help and give back to the community,” she says. “Both my parents were in the Defence Force – my Mum was Army and my Dad was in the Air Force. I heard lots of stories as I was growing up.”

Reserve Force soldiers and officers generally train one weekend per quarter, as well as parade nights on weekday evenings twice a month. They are expected to commit to a minimum of 20 days a year, and will frequently supplement regular force units in New Zealand and overseas.

Corps training includes weapon handling, first aid, field craft, navigation, fitness training and teamwork.

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Private Ruscoe joined 2/4 Battalion in the middle of 2023. She had previously done five months in Officer Cadet School but left for health reasons. The Reserve Force training keeps her connected and she plans to re-enroll in the future.

“We’re a busy unit,” she says. “We have lots of parade nights throughout the month, and then a weekend in the field to summarize what we’ve learnt.”

The weekend’s activities are a lot of fun, but her favorite part of being with 2/4 Battalion is the people.

When you go through these challenges, you build a lot of camaraderie. We’ve got a lot of hard working people, ranging from university students to doctors and lawyers. There’s so many different backgrounds.

She’s been a tattoo artist for over two years, working in her own business Crimson Rose Tattoo in a shared studio. Some of her customers have been Army colleagues.

She likes the Reserve Force training for that feeling of accomplishment. “You feel like you’re being pushed outside your comfort zone. It helps in all aspects of your life. Building resilience is a big one, but there’s small things you don’t even notice that improve your everyday life, like time management and being organised. It’s good experiencing that routine.”