Though it is not as widely instituted in the 21st century, compulsory military service was a practice that dominated the lives of millions of young men and women living in a large number of countries over the world in past generations.
Broadly speaking, military service was defined as a mandatory period of a young adult’s life in which they were required to devote their time, usually at least one year, to their country’s armed forces and its various different branches. In decades past, this was seen as a traditional, character building and widely accepted part of life, but as the years have progressed and attitudes to warfare and the military have changed, the questions of whether military service should be a choice rather than a requirement have become much more prominent in public debate.
Should young people have the right to choose whether or not they accept military service, or should it remain a compulsory requirement of citizenship in their given country?There are arguments for and against the compulsory nature of military service, and this essay will aim to briefly highlight the key elements of the for camp, before laying out a case for the side of those against it.
Those who believe in mandatory military service for all young adults of a certain age hold the belief that committing time and skill to your country’s armed forces not only instils responsibility and maturity in you as a person, but that it is also an ideal way to give back to the nation that has been your home for your entire childhood and young adult life. They see it as a way to give a productive and essential thanks to your country of birth, repaying what it has given you by spending a year or more working to protect its citizens and maintain its overall safety and place in the wider world.
However, does a job so important as a member of a country’s military not seem like it should only be held by those who are truly passionate and committed to the cause? It would be fair to say that on the spectrum of employment, a job that involves the prospect of putting your life on the line for the future and safety of an entire nation is as about as important as it can get, and therefore military ranks should only be comprised of individuals who feel a strong and particular calling to the armed forces life.
Not only does serving in the military require a certain type of personality, but it can also have a negative impact on those who don’t have that personality that are forced in to the situation because of its compulsory nature. PTSD is a very real and very damaging mental affliction, one that can ruin the lives the most invested and headstrong forces men and women, so it stands to reason that any individual who is coming in to military service unwillingly or with apprehension might be even more susceptible to this type of psychological suffering.
We need to stop thinking about the military as a rights of passage type experience for young people around the world, and start treating is as the serious, life altering commitment that it is. Why would anybody want some of the most important and valuable positions in the world to be taken up by people who do not want to be there in the first place? There will always be a deep pool of brave and willing people who want to choose a career of service on their own, and this makes compulsory military service an outdates and unnecessary practice.