Decision to join the military comes with life-changing experiences. It is good for eligible teenagers to join the armed forces, but they have to know that there are lessons to be learnt about themselves and the world that would leave permanent impressions on their lives.
Whenever a teenage recruit realizes what they want to do to accomplish their mission and goal in life, they work hard for it. This may entail losing weight so as to meet the requirements for enlisting and visiting recruitment bases to get information on the various military options notably, marine, air force, navy and army to know which suits them. Teenagers are motivated to join the armed forces for reasons of patriotism, personal ties to the military, for example where the parents and relatives of the recruit have been in the military (Stafstrom, 2007). Other reasons are adventurism, opposition to terror aggression. Public attitudes such as feelings of being a hero for fighting the enemy in his own home ground also motivate teenagers to join the military.
Would-be recruits are pressured and motivated to join the military by advertisements on the media, the money and riches that come with being in the armed forces coupled with the success guaranteed by the recruiting staff, and the support from the teenagers’ family and friends. Many teenagers would want to continue with their education, but due to poverty or lack of a guardian to pay for their education fees, they see the military as the best place to realize their education dream. This is because the military pays the tuition fee for the enlisted members while on active duty in addition to upwards as stipulated in the GI Bill to use while in service or ten years as a veteran (Shay, 2005).
Stafstrom, (2007) notes that teenagers who enlist with the military expect to serve their country, come out of the war zone as heroes who have fought and won the fight. This involves using highly sophisticated technology and intelligence to keep track of what the enemy would do next and counter them in advance. Attaining medals and special recognition by the president makes the military attractive to the young boys and girls who have spend their years watching movies about the battle ground victories and can have a chance to envision and live that reality.
A sense of adventure in the foreign lands raises the expectations of teenagers enlisting for the service (Hardoff & Halevy, 2006). This consists of having a feel of other people’s culture and living in uncertainty as to what may happen next, hence constant preparedness which translates to how they lead life generally. They also expect to pass legacy on in the cases whereby taking part in the military is a heritage affair and has been passed on from generations.
Enlisting in the military requires total obedience, detachment from family and friends, knowledge that physical injuries and mental stress may occur in the battlefield, and obligations beyond the personal needs of the recruit (Stafstrom, 2007). Studies have shown that 30% to 60% of young military personnel had substance abuse disorders as compared to the older soldiers, and young women went as far as attempting suicide or inflicted injuries on themselves (Wojcik, Akhtar & Hassell, 2009). In addition, young soldiers show worse health effects, which is evidenced by the state of health of the veterans on returning home, such as mood swings, inability to feel emotions and lack of connectedness with their families (Shay, 2005).
The reality is that battle front lines even though it is a great thing, it does not generate all the glamour associated with stories about wars in the movies and novels. The pride of serving one’s country fades soon because of being away from loved ones as recruits come to terms with bureaucracy and boredom.