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Compulsory Military Service: Saving our Youth

Many of the world’s modern ailments can be traced to a lack of discipline, inadequate educational opportunities for the young, and individual feelings of inadequacy. In order to treat these ailments, one scholar has noted that “Supporters of a system of national service would thus regard it as healthy for the nation if every young person, male and female, were required to serve a period of military service or alternative service, as the embodiment and renewal of a concept of duty” (Quester, 2005). This essay will argue that the benefits associated with compulsory military service, for all high school graduates, are simply too great to ignore.

More particularly, this essay will argue that compulsory military service is both desirable and necessary because it will instill discipline, it will provide otherwise unavailable educational opportunities, and it will instill confidence and maturity through a sense of accomplishment. The Military Teaches Discipline As an initial matter, the military instills discipline and demands personal responsibility. Young adults often graduate from high school with a sense that individualism is the most important civic virtue; consequently, many individuals behave in ways that are harmful to themselves in particular and to society more generally.

They seek to maximize their own benefits to the exclusion of others, they seek a greater social status than their peers, and they tend to view social relationships as essentially competitive rather than harmonious. The nexus between this sort of extreme individualism and the consequent lack of discipline and personal responsibility has been much talked about in the media. A common criticism is that “Today, self-discipline is virtually unheard of, and the effects can be seen in homes, schools and in the street. ” (“Forces Life Turns Boys,” 2008, p. 71).

The military experience, on the other hand, quickly stifles extreme individualistic urges and replaces these urges with a pragmatic environment in which teamwork and mutual responsibility predominate. This is because the group in a military environment takes precedence over the individual; indeed, as stated by one commentator “A barrack room of 30 men sleeping and eating together will rapidly bring to heel any ‘bad ones’ among them. ” (“Forces Life Turns Boys,” 2008, p. 71). In the military context, discipline is demanded and is not optional.

This is a valuable character trait for high school students to attain because it stresses the unity and the success of larger groups rather than individual competition. Individuals will be much more likely to contribute positively to society if they have learned discipline and self-sacrifice. This discipline may be applied in employment situations, in family relationships, and even when pursuing further education; indeed, one scholar commenting on The Citadel has noted that “Citadel alumni stressed the collateral benefits of military discipline in education.

” (Andrew, 2001, p. 39). In short, discipline is an essential life skill and the best place to learn and appreciate discipline is in the military. Educational Opportunities An additional reason for requiring high school graduates to enroll in the military for four years is the fact that the military branches offer educational opportunities and funding which are often not otherwise available to high school graduates; these educational incentives can be traced to military efforts to enhance recruiting (Thirtle, 2001, p. 2).

Although the military provides both in-house and external educational opportunities, the G. I. Bill is probably the most well known educational incentive. The fundamental premise is that funding for educational expenses is vested according to years of service. As a result, individuals serving in the military are at the same time able to earn money for their future educational expenses. This is a tremendous benefit; it is tremendous because it opens up educational opportunities that might not otherwise be available to a number of high school graduates.

More significantly, by requiring that all high school graduates enroll in the military, society is simultaneously financing the future education of all high school graduates through this period of service. History counsels that the educational opportunities provided by the military have beneficial consequences both individually and socially; indeed, one scholar has characterized American soldiers from World War II whom subsequently benefited from the G. I. Bill as one of the greatest postwar success stories in the history of the world (Mettler, 2005, p. xi).

Such a policy, requiring compulsory military service, will serve to better educate the young and to finance to a certain extent their education as well. Provides a Sense of Accomplishment A final reason for making a four year military commitment compulsory for high school graduates is that a military experience creates a successful track record for individuals and a sense of accomplishment with which these individuals can reenter civilian society more confidently and more maturely.

The military, in effect, is about encountering challenges and overcoming those challenges. What the military instills is a sense of personal responsibility and a sense of accomplishment. Individuals concluding their military service can then transfer into civilian society with a sense of self-respect and the notion that all challenges can be surmounted. Conclusion In the final analysis, there are many compelling reasons for requiring all high school graduates to enroll in the military for a four year period of time.

The most important reasons include the need to instill discipline in impressionable youth, the need to improve access to educational opportunities for youth, and the need to create a verifiable track record of accomplishments. It is time to make military service compulsory for all high school graduates because of the aforementioned benefits. References Andrew, R. (2001). Long Gray Lines: The Southern Military School Tradition, 1839-1915. Chapel Hill, NC: University of North Carolina Press.

Retrieved May 6, 2009, from Questia database: http://www. questia. com/PM. qst? a=o&d=100785437 Forces Life Turns Boys into Men; Discipline: National Service Instilled Values Vital for Society. (2008, August 11). The Daily Mail (London, England), p. 71. Retrieved May 6, 2009, from Questia database: http://www. questia. com/PM. qst? a=o&d=5028490619 Mettler, S. (2005). Soldiers to Citizens: The G. I. Bill and the Making of the Greatest Generation.

New York: Oxford University Press. Retrieved May 6, 2009, from Questia database: http://www.questia. com/PM. qst? a=o&d=114357992 Quester, G. H. (2005). Demographic Trends and Military Recruitment: Surprising Possibilities. Parameters, 35(1), 27+. Retrieved May 6, 2009, from Questia database: http://www. questia. com/PM. qst? a=o&d=5011208601 Thirtle, M. R. (2001). Educational Benefits and Officer-Commissioning Opportunities Available to U. S. Military Servicemembers. Santa Monica, CA: Rand. Retrieved May 6, 2009, from Questia database: http://www. questia. com/PM. qst? a=o&d=103983527

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