As you all know, I spent nearly 9 months in service for my country's military as mandated by our constitution. Although the length of service could vary between 6-12 months, I was told as early as 2010 that I would be placed in the Military Police Unit, which has a 9 month minimum service. I started my service on July 9th, 2012 and ended it on March 20th, 2013. In this blog post I'll try to tell about my experiences without getting too involved ^^.
I never forget my early days in the army. Everyone was constantly shouting at you, you always had to hurry along to places and many people were depressed since it was a completely different way of life. I fared quite well, not feeling depressed and enduring the difficult physical training. As time went on, we were taught the basics of a soldier like using a rifle, marching, making a bed just perfect and wearing your uniform in an appropriate fashion. Many here cannot even imagine how strict it was; there was not a single soldier who didn't get shouted upon for having something wrong with their look.
No doubt my most magical experience about my basic training season was the first time when I got home for a weekend. The feeling was unimaginable and as I entered my room for the first time in almost three weeks, these thoughts came to my mind: Am I allowed to do whatever I want? No need to hurry anywhere? Can I wear my clothes the way I want?. After my first time home, I adopted to the system where I would visit home every two weeks or sometimes even every week. My first time home however was something I never forget for being home had never felt as incredible.
My worst experience during my basic training was the first of the notorious army camps. We travelled several kilometers with full equipment and heavy backpacks full of items and such. This equipment weighed atleast 100 lbs and many had to stop to take a break but since we were in a hurry, this resulted in stronger people like myself taking equipment from other people to carry so we could move faster. Once we had reached our destination, we started planting our tent but soon our corporals told us that if we didn't plant the tent perfectly in a set time. we would have to disassemble it and try again until we could plant it fast enough. We planted the tent for two hours until we finally reached a time limit that was satisfactory. Not surprisingly this caused a lot of stress on us.
This four day camp was short maybe but it taught me what camping could be at its worst. We slept poorly due to the fact that we were training for nightly ambushes and atleast twice a night the alarm was triggered and people had to take positions, not to mention that the tent had to be heated during the night, so every hour there was a person in charge of keeping the tent warm.
After four days of little sleep, poor food and enduring excercises, we returned to the barracks and never had the place felt so good as then. After this camp, the rest of the basic training felt incredibly easy and it went smoothly until it ended during late August as I was promoted to a private.
Medical School/Becoming a medic
After my basic training, I was informed that I would become a combat medic. On September 3rd, I left my unit and travelled with about 20 others to my country's only medical school located about 115 km from my unit. This period was easily the best part of my army service.
The medical school outclassed all of my other service easily due to the fact that we focused on meaningful things. We didn't spend time on useless endeavours but in things that mattered. The staff of the medical school knew well what they were doing and I learned the responsibilities and skills of the medic very well thanks to the superb training. The barracks of the medical school was superior to my old unit, with better food, a better gym and more sensible principles in general, like having enough time to eat and not having to hurry everywhere just to wait.
Medical school was a place I never wanted to leave but on September 28th, I had been promoted to a combat medic and I left the gate of the school for the very last time. Unlike my fellow medics, I was not happy for I knew that bad times were ahead.
Return to my old unit/Bad times
Upon returning to my old unit, I quickly remembered why I had hated the place so much. Energy wasted on useless tasks, everything having to be exactly correct with the fear of facing discrimination and the lack of my own duties. For the first month back in my old unit, I did nothing that a medic was supposed to do, I did the job of an average rifleman.
After October things looked a bit better with us medics getting our first assignments where we were required to use our own skills. Despite this, things never would be as good as they were in medical school.
During the remainder of the year 2012, the excercises were regular military police duties with us medics getting a few excercises of our own. We also had a few army camps which were much better than the first one I had. At this time disclipline also slowly toned down and things were slightly more relaxed. However the problem with consuming energy on useless things such as shovelling snow off the yard even when we had plows to use never ended. Another problem that persisted in my unit was the fact that we repeated many things we had learned multiple times. This would've been fine except for the fact that different people came to supervise these training excercises and since all of these people had a different idea about how things worked, the officers were never truly satisfied with our performance.
As the year ended, we all hoped that the early months of 2013 would run smoothly.
Last of my service/2013
On early January our service changed completely when our old NCO's (Non Commissioned Officer) had concluded their service and the new ones that followed were people that had served with us during the basic training season. The result was pretty much the end of military discipline. What also caught our attention, was the fact that new initiates had arrived and we were higher ranking than they were. During the early days of January I got more salutes than I ever did and I was mistaken for a corporal multiple times. As the initiates were new and confused like I had been in July, I decided to give some emotional support to a few of them. This is something that I'm still proud of, since many were only mocking them and venting their anger on them through this.
Other than these experiences, my remaining service was pretty normal, with regular excercises and camps until freedom finally prevailed on March 20th 2013. When I left the gate, I promised never to look back again for I had served my country and I would not serve her again.
Last notes about the service
So if you people ask me what I think about my service as a whole, well I'll tell you that it was an experience for sure. I saw people of different wealth and education levels and also got reminded about the harsh truth of how unfair life can be. Many people who gave their all and were always up for tasks never got any recognition while lazy people who almost never did anything, got all the praise since they were either good friends with their superiors or they managed to look like great soldiers just at the right time when say a colonel stumbles upon an excercise. This wasn't the case for everybody but it happened so many times that my faith in the military was substantially diminished.
As for the people themselves, most were honestly forgettable people with little interest in more than women and getting drunk. This is why those who had something more to talk about always caught my attention and with most of these people I became friends with since they were not in huge supply ^^.
The best thing I gained from the military was my medical training which I can apply in my civilian life and my increased appreciation for the things I have as a civilian. Freedom is a precious thing.
I bet many of you also wonder what it was like to be a brony in the military. Well I did get caught of watching the show and I had to explain myself many times over. Obviously I got mocked about it but I didn't give a flying feather about what they thought. Surprisingly I learned rather quickly that I was not the only brony of my unit and with this one person I talked about the show when others were not around.
To conclude this post, for those people who want to serve in the military, don't let my experiences scare you away. Even if I didn't have the time of my life, that doesn't mean you won't.