Idea for Compulsory Service in America

politics, society

I think America should have compulsory service (military/humanitarian) for all 18 year olds, male and female.

Germany and many other democratic countries have compulsory service, though many only require men to serve, which I think is ridiculous.

I’d like to see our country require every 18 year old to serve one year in either a branch of the military or in civil service, with the latter including teaching in an underprivileged area, road construction, aid to seniors, etc.

No one would be exempt, period. No deferrals, no buying your way out of it, no nothing. Everyone could — and IMHO should — help our country in some way.

College would then (optionally) start at age 19 for most folks.

In exchange for a very modest housing/food coverage, the government — and our country — would get new roads built, more English-proficient youngsters (via bilingual ed assistance), more cared-for seniors, and so on.

Also, our military would likely contain a higher percentage of more-educated and upper-class youth.

Another nice side benefit would be that kids would enter college with some additional real-life experience and perhaps a bit more maturity, not to mention an appreciation for the likely-easier student life.

And lastly, I sincerely believe this requirement would add to civic pride and bring meaning to citizenship beyond merely taxation obligations and oft-ignored voting rights.

I don’t have any illusions that this would ever happen in America. In the aggregate we’re too individualistic at the expense of caring about our community and we’re too, well, damn selfish.

But I can dream.

What do you think about this idea of compulsory service?
And have any of you actually lived in countries that already require such ‘giving’ back to the State?

[ I posted the note above in the ‘kitchen sink’ (anything goes) topic of a national swing dance board (“Yehoodi”). Read the ensuing (vigorous!) debate here. Feel free to add your own thoughts either (or both!) in the comments section on this blog, or directly at Yehoodi if you wish. ]

17 comments… add one
  • Matthew Payne Apr 1, 2003

    Wow, I do have to say that is a wild dream.  My question is, have you ever served time in the military?  I spent four years in the Marine Corps infantry and I agree with your point on the fact that people are maturer when they have a few more life experiences when they return to college.  But I disagree with being made to join, because that would totally take away every thing that America stands for.  Our country is a democracy, where we are free to choose what we want to do with our lives.  I choose to join the military and because it was my choice it made my experience more worth it.  If I had to be in because I was being forced to then I know I would hate it and resent my goverment for making me go.  Plus with such a short enlistment your discipline will drop, turnaround rate is so high, that by the time you complete training a unit and they work well together their enlistments up.  When you were a kid you hated it when mom or dad made you wear certian clothes or go places you didn’t want to, well kinda the same thing but mom and dad is the Government.
        Matthew w Payne
        Former Marine

  • Matthew Payne Apr 1, 2003

    Wow, I do have to say that is a wild dream.  My question is, have you ever served time in the military?  I spent four years in the Marine Corps infantry and I agree with your point on the fact that people are maturer when they have a few more life experiences when they return to college.  But I disagree with being made to join, because that would totally take away every thing that America stands for.  Our country is a democracy, where we are free to choose what we want to do with our lives.  I choose to join the military and because it was my choice it made my experience more worth it.  If I had to be in because I was being forced to then I know I would hate it and resent my goverment for making me go.  Plus with such a short enlistment your discipline will drop, turnaround rate is so high, that by the time you complete training a unit and they work well together their enlistments up.  When you were a kid you hated it when mom or dad made you wear certian clothes or go places you didn’t want to, well kinda the same thing but mom and dad is the Government.
        Matthew w Payne
        Former Marine

  • Ken Feb 24, 2004

    I am ALL FOR compulsory service. Matthew seems to be looking at it more from a military draft type perspective. I think people should have the choice of military or civil service – if you think everyone would choose civil service, you are dead wrong. Those that do – that would be fine. Even handicapped people could help and it would benefit both them and those they serve.

    The idea of America standing for letting everyone do what they want was ok when America taught common moral values in schools, but that has been taken away – so imagine that EVERYONE is taught to do what they want regardless of how it affects others and that they have no moral obligations to anyone but themselves. The logical end to that scenario is exactly where we’re headed – chaos, anarchy and disaster.

    Ken
    US Navy Veteran

  • sam Mar 12, 2004

    i am doing a debate on that we should have compolsory military service and we are on the affermative team and i really need halp and points of why. thnx

  • Adam Mar 12, 2004

    Oh my god Sam!! Me TOO!!!

    Please help Sam and I, its the hardest topic i’ve ever had………my debate’s on the 16th

  • Admin Mar 27, 2004

    There’s a new website setup as a forum specifically for this debate. Feel free to post your opinions there: http://www.compulsoryservice.org

  • Hannah Apr 28, 2007

    I served 8 years in the US Army before being injured and coming home and I have always thought that compulsory service should be brought back, but for both men and women. 

    I served in Germany for 3 years and they require service, as does France (my former boyfiend was french).  Also Israel requires service of some kind.

    I agree that it would help the kids today better appreciate what they have in regards to individual freedoms when they have to lose those for a year and do only what they are told to do for the betterment of our country.  The military is closer to communism that protects democracy than anything you’ll ever see in the real world.

    Plus, all that money for college, VA housing and small business loans, and many, many other benefits of service would then be better utilized by our youth.  And there is always the growing up and maturing of the individuals themselves.  When I was in basic training (i was 29), I noticed that this was the first time for many of these younsters of being away from “good ol’ mommy” and having to rely on themselves.

    If someone is an objector to violence, fine, let them serve in the peace corps, or work in the VA clinics/hospitals, or even as pages in congress (lord knows with everything that’s been happening out there, we need to get the young adolescense’s out of congress).

    I am all for compulsory service and my kids hopefully will do some sort of service to their country.  My daughter is also doing a speech for school on this subject.

  • Soph Dec 10, 2007

    😛

  • Soph Dec 10, 2007

    I am doing a debate on compulsory service to the state so other stuff not just army. I think it is a terrible idea as we all have the right to make our own choices. I really would love all your views on this matter as it is so hard to argue

    Thank you everyone Soph xxxxxxxxxxxx 😀

  • Lavor Dec 12, 2007

    ‘‘they require service, as does France (my former boyfiend was french)’‘

    France abolished compulsory military service back in 2001. Many other countries have followed France’s movement, e.g. Spain, Italy etc.

    ‘‘When I was in basic training (i was 29), I noticed that this was the first time for many of these younsters of being away from ?good ol? mommy? and having to rely on themselves.’‘

    Civil life is usually more difficult and demanding than military life. Military men know this truth and so a lot of them, in order to avoid civil life, decide to hide themselves in military camps. Like monks, they shun civil life to lead an easier life.

  • Liz Jan 28, 2008

    How about a set up where people earn the right to vote by serving the country?  Would there be a better informed constituency? Would our country be better off with power in the hands of those willing to fight and die for everyone? I know that it smacks of a military government but i don’t believe that is how it would shake out, I think we would have a greater influence of intelligent and civic minded persons in office, the same for the voting body.

  • h0ly Feb 6, 2008

    I like liz idea and the whole idea in general..

    it would be really good to see more people help the country.

  • David Carter future marine Jan 7, 2009

    i am writting an esay for a debate on the same subject i have to write con and i need help its realy hard

  • Chuck Byron Jan 25, 2009

    Disgusting!  “Compulsory service” is nothing more than a synonym for “involuntary servitude”.  Just because YOU agree with the work being done does not change the fact that it is force.

    I think everyone should have cotton underwear, does this justify forcing people into the cotton fields against their will?

    Of course that is a bit harsh now isn’t it.  Let’s stick to the topic.  You say the country would have more care for the elderly with this forced slavery you advocate.  Given the choice of putting your mother in a nursing home run by employees who choose to work there or one run by compulsory service, which would you choose?

    Just a a rose by any other name would smell the same, slavery by any other name is still slavery no matter how you justify it in your twisted sick mind.

  • Teacher Lady Feb 3, 2009

    Interesting posts.  I am having my class write a persuasive paper on this very topic.  All of these arguments will be great for them to read. Thanks!

  • Greg Zobel Apr 6, 2009

    There is, in actuality, no reason to debate this as compulsory servitude is a direct violation of amendment XIII of the constitution. The only allowed circumstance is in cases of punishment after conviction of a crime.

  • bill Dec 31, 2009

    I can’t stand all those preppy kids who laugh and make fun of the people who serve our military and get their limbs blown off or die. They say things like, and I quote, “Military intelligence—an oxymoron!” Smile and laugh while your father and your father’s father served proudly to defend this country and their parents avoided war, made a buck of your parent’s sacrifice. And, the top it off with I’m better than you as a human being, therefore, I shall not speak to you and go join my preppy friends in a game of make fun of military kid-loser.

    I want those pricks to lose their arms in battle and sacrifice something for this country like my people, my father, my grandfather did so many years ago.

    It’s fair and just.

What do you think?