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Have you ever considered serving in the military after graduating high school? In our international community, this is a regular topic that is talked about in students’ futures. Students that serve before university are usually obliged, as their country makes it mandatory. However, this is not always the case.

Going into the military at an adolescent age depends on the country you are from. Some believe it is a contribution to the country and provides a longer time for development, while others believe going to university before is more beneficial.

Most students that join the military before graduating to universities are from the 26 countries below. These countries require mandatory service for men. However, in Israel, serving applies for both genders.

 

Countries in red, pictured above, require mandatory military service: Armenia, Austria, Belarus, Azerbaijan, Bermuda, Brazil, Burma, Cyprus, Denmark, Egypt, Finland, Greece, Iran, Israel, North Korea, South Korea, Mexico, Norway, Russia, Singapore, Switzerland, China, Thailand, Turkey, Ukraine and the United Arab Emirates. Image Source: Israel Defense Forces.

Depending on the country you’re from, that is the region you would have to serve for. Each country has rules regarding their requirements for roles. For example, to contribute for the US military one must be over 17, have a high school diploma, pass a physical and medical test, and have a residency in the US. These are basic regulations that most forces in the world have when deciding the appropriate role for you. The obligatory time for serving after high school is between 2-4 years.

Image Source: Israel Defense Forces

Benefits:

Receive an education in different fields
The military offers lots of jobs in various fields. Most lie under the major sections that the military is split into: Marines, Air Force, Navy, Coast Guard and the Army. Every military force offers different jobs; however, most forces are separated into the categories above. The military provides hundreds of jobs, from ones that are life-threatening and physically demanding to highly complicated spying.

Find yourself
Students between 18-29 are in the transitional period from adolescence to adulthood, so this task of going to the military allows them to find their identity in a complex society. This is extra time to settle with decisions that will determine your future. According to the book Emerging Adults in America, almost half of the students enrolled in college drop out before getting a degree. Jordan Weissmann (senior associate editor at The Atlantic) stated that becoming a successful adult requires the right combination of independence and support – and serving in the military provides that combination for many. It runs various practices, such as boot camp. The military allows for development both physically and mentally.

Serve your country
Joining the military for most is a way to serve their country and show appreciation. However, when it is obligatory having the thought of helping your country can motivate one to complete their service with pleasure.

Get paid monthly
Serving the military is like a job, as you get paid every month. Payment depends on your role. Different jobs and countries have dissimilar wages. Payments can start at minimum wage and go up to thousands of dollars. Attending college gets cheaper as one earns money during his/her service. However, one is not paid for further education, such as university. The money received during the service can be saved for going to study at a college or a university. This will eventually benefit one financially as they have more money to go to study. Along with monthly payment, the military is also in charge of your medical and dental care.

Travel across the country
The military allows young adults to meet people from all over the country that are in a similar age range. In every country, there are bases scattered around the region. Leading to specific jobs being in different places, (usually the bases one serves in do not relate to the city of origin) concluding in being away from home. Every base has new people for you to meet that come from different backgrounds.

 

Disadvantages:

Cannot quit until commitment contract ends
When one serves in the military there is no option to drop out. One must finish his or her commitment. It is extremely rare to discharge the military while in service as you take an oath, you are legally (and morally) obligated to complete the terms of the contract. However, there are a few things that will allow one to be approved for discharge. These are not granted to work as the military has strict laws regarding discharges. One way is if a female becomes pregnant during her duty leading to a right to request military separation. Another way is being a sole surviving son or daughter. It only applies to a sibling that has a family member that died in service for his/her country as a military participant.

In most cases, one cannot choose the course to take in the military
This is assigned by officials which may lead to an unwanted job. This is decided through multiple tests for one’s medical, mental and physical abilities. Jobs are given regarding the scores one has received. Each job has a minimum score needed to qualify. These scores are decided by the Armed Forces Vocational Aptitude Battery.

Can be life-threatening
Be sent to a war zone at any time or a dangerous mission. Denial is not an option, so in moments of emergency, your help is mandatory. If your job requires physical force being sent into a conflict is expected and will be required.

Being away from home
The military provides lots of different jobs. Some require staying overnight at the base and others allow going home every evening. Bases may be far from your home which concludes in staying a week in the base and going home on the weekends. Sometimes one will need to provide service only on the weekends and go home all other days. Every job has different requirements for completion so everyone’s journey will be different.

Image Source: Bridges for peace

 

In our school, there are multiple students that have served in the military before going to university. Here are some personal thoughts and insights from a recent alumni who is serving in Israel.

Q: Why did you choose to join the army? [Since she graduated from high school abroad, she was not obligated to join the IDF (Israel Defense Force.]

A: First, I wanted to make a difference and I wanted to be a part of something big. Second, I wanted to experience this once in a lifetime experience. Nowhere else in life, you would need to go through boot camp, or have commanders that care about you or even be a commander. And third, the army is such an inseparable part of the Israeli culture, and since I didn’t live in Israel for so long I wanted to be a part of it.

Q: Do you enjoy your time?

A: I love it in the army. You get to meet people from all over Israel at around your age. You get to live with them and experience the army with them. At the end of the day, these are the people that will be your friends for life.

Q: What was something you learned that you will carry onwards?

A: I learned that to get what you want, you don’t need to give it. You need to fight for it because no one else in real life will fight for you.

Q: Is it a different atmosphere than our international community?

A: It is slightly similar even though people’s backgrounds are different. The people in my unit come from all over the country and so each one has something else to give, like in an international community.

Q: Is there anything that ever makes you rethink your decision of joining?

A: At the beginning, when I was in boot camp training, it was very hard both mentally and physically and a few times I found myself questioning whether I should have really come. But now, looking back it was such a unique and challenging experience that I would do again.

Q: During what grade had you decided that you wanted to serve in the army before going to university?

A: I think I knew all along I wanted to join the army, but since all my friends were going to university it was hard for me to admit that I wanted to do something different, and I was even scared to do something so different and unknown, as I didn’t know what I was going to do in the army. So, in 12th grade I decided to enroll in universities, however, I decided to postpone and join the army in 12th grade.

Q: How is this going to impact your life in the future?

A: Firstly, I think the army matures people. You get so much responsibility whether you are on duty or not. The moment you wear those uniforms, no matter where you are, people come to you for help. Even if it’s the smallest things such as direction to the restroom. People look at you as a role model and respect you as you serve their country. Secondly, the army puts you in situations you will never experience in your life, such as guarding a base at 3 am with a rifle. That is probably the scariest thing I have done in my life and now looking back it wasn’t that bad and I know that the sky’s the limit for me.

So, you could say the military shaped me as a person and changed my mindset for the rest of my life.

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