Throwing yourself into a war zone is not something your average thirtysomething, slightly overweight teacher would consider.
But that's exactly what Jason Whitehouse has done. The 37-year-old has swapped the classroom chalkface of Birmingham's International School and Community College in Tile Cross for the frontline in Iraq.
A "sapper" with the Territorial Army, he is on a six-month tour of duty with the Monmouthshire Royal Engineers in Basra.
Known in his regiment as "as the oldest sapper in town", the teacher from Blackheath had to put himself through a tough six-month training regime in preparation for the mission. It has seen him go from 16st 10lb stones to a fit 15st.
"I have come from a job where I sat in a chair to one where I'm being very physical," he said.
"The Army has been excellent with me. They got me through a physical fitness test. I can now do 39 press-ups and 44 sit-ups and run a mile-and-a-half in 11.5 minutes.
"When I was 16, I ran a mile in eight minutes which means I would have done a mile-and-a-half in 12 minutes. I am running faster now than I did 21 years ago."
An IT tutor at Birmingham International, the married father-of-one joined the Territorial Army four years ago at the relatively old age of 33. He was inspired by a life-long ambition.
"My family has a military history. My father was in the forces during conscription. My grandfather was in the Second World War. It is something I have always wanted to do so I joined the TA."
Though he contemplated joining the Army when he was younger, it was the educational influences in Jason's family - his father ended up a deputy head and his mother was also a teacher - that won out.
But during his tour in Iraq, he has managed to combine both by putting his teaching skills to use within the Army.
He has taken seven soldiers through an Information and Communications Technology BTEC, which enables them to eventually gain two GCSEs.
His school is supporting his efforts by sending out teaching packs and enrolling the soldiers who study during their spare time at the Army's education centre.
Jason said: "I am happy doing it because it keeps me in touch with my teaching. When I come back I will have been out of school for a year.
"I know how fast computers advance so it is easy to get out of date. For the troops, it is a good skill. Now 99.9 per cent of schools have computers. IT skills are what employers really look for. That is what I have told them.
"If they crack on with it when they come back it is a good qualification to get."
Going from being in charge of a classroom to his first tour of duty in one of the world's worst trouble pots has been something of a culture shock for Jason.
"I have come from a professional job going back down to the bottom rung. I have had to adapt but the Army has really made me feel welcome," he said.
"I have a job as a sapper, which is what you are called in the engineers, and I'm known as the oldest sapper in town. The lads also officially call me 'teach'.
"I miss my son and my wife but if you try something different and have things taken away you get to appreciate how lucky you are in civilian life."
Due to return to the UK in May, the harsh conditions in Basra have started to take their toll on Jason.
"The weather is horrible," he said. "It is hot and dusty every single day. It is getting hotter and I'm a bit worried about how I'll cope. It gets up to 45 degrees and you still have to wear a military uniform."