Larry’s Outlook: Mandatory military service would teach life skills

Larry’s Outlook: Mandatory military service would teach life skills

Larry Oswalt

During several periods in our history, most recently from World War II into the 1970s, our country enacted a compulsory military draft.

This means that your country required certain young people (men only to this point) to serve in the country’s military under penalty of law. The draft in which I was involved drafted 19-year-old men based on a national lottery of birthdays.

In 1970, my birthday was picked as draft number 007, and I was promptly drafted in January 1971. I was forced to serve either two years in the US Army, or I had the option to voluntarily join another branch of service.

I was not happy. I was married and settled into a job and new marriage, but I chose the US Navy, and I am honored to have served for six years.

You may wonder why a person compelled to do something that he did not want to do at the time wants to put this burden on others. I have several reasons to believe that we should enact a mandatory two-year active duty obligation for every man and woman in the country from the age of 19 to 21. My reasons range from facetious to extremely serious.

First, every person in the country between nineteen and twenty-one would have a paying job. Along with this would come learning the financial responsibility of handling money, along with the built-in fallback that, regardless of their initial success in monetary usage, they would have a place to sleep and three meals a day.

Second, according to some studies, up to 40 percent of all crime is committed by late teens and early 20 year olds. If these individuals were taken off the streets and put into a military setting, these crimes would virtually disappear overnight.

Also, college access would increase to near 100% either through education while serving, by more financial security derived from the two years of financial income while serving or through the G.I.Bill.

Another important reason is the maturity and self-discipline that comes from military service. The very tough growing years between late teens and early 20s are fostered by a military style of learning and living. You also are surrounded by people your age and in the same situation for moral support.

From a nationalistic point of view, the influx of soldiers, airmen and sailors would alleviate any potential shortages of manpower if needed for national security.

If overages should occur, I’m sure Washington and its politicians could find a humanitarian or practical use of the warm bodies.

Lastly, and probably the most important, is the honor and privilege everyone would derive from this. I have used the term service several times in this argument. Please understand that military service is just that, a service to your country.

You serve your country, your state, your county, your friends and your family. NOTHING is more important than your gift of service to your community and country.

I challenge you to find one person over 30 who, having served in the US military, regrets his or her service. I am convinced that no matter what I may have done in my life, or may ever do, my military service will have been the best thing I ever did.