With America approaching an abundance of international threats and a shortage of troops, the need for the public’s military involvement has resurfaced. Though words such as “draft” and “conscription” have had negative connotations, it is time for these ideas to change.

Members of the Army National Guard patrol Bourbon Street in New Orleans as last year’s Hurricane Isaac makes landfall. Casa Grande High students Keeley Chism and Maggie Pearce argue that mandatory military service would provide more resources for disaster response in the United States. (ERIC GAY / Associated Press, 2012)

Currently, we find ourselves split by our differing views on right and wrong. With the initiation of two years mandatory military service for all 18-year-old men and women, we would become bound by a sense of camaraderie. Service should not only be seen as something to reconnect our nation, but as repayment to the U.S. for the rights awarded to us, as well as a method for increasing long term benefits.

Freedom seems to be the common, and only, argument against a military based on conscription, but what is conveniently left out in this argument is the price of freedom. What have we done to deserve the freedom of speech? What have we contributed to warrant the right to bear arms?

According to former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, military service has become, in the eyes of many Americans, “something for other people to do.” Gates calls for action, inquiring of American citizens what they have done to earn the freedoms “paid for by those whose names are in veterans’ cemeteries across the country and across the world.”

Author and Vietnam War veteran Andrew Bacevich, while supportive of mandatory service, feels all war endeavors the U.S. has faced in the last 30 years, including the Vietnam war, were unnecessary. With so many sons, daughters, brothers and sisters leaving the nest for the military, America would be more aware of what a war entails, whether it be an attempt to bring democracy to a country, or remove chemical weapons from a government.

Many Americans also seem unaware of what the government achieves and, instead, focus on the bad. Programs such as Social Security would come to a halt if the federal government were to stop supporting them. If conscription were initiated, the retirement age could be pushed back by two years and more money would be paid into Social Security.

With an excess of conscripts, including those 18-year-olds unfit for military duty, America would be able to recover from any natural disaster much faster. When Hurricane Katrina hit, one reason that the response was not as immediate or as comprehensive as some would have liked is because the National Guard had been deployed overseas.

Because many people consider conscription equivalent to losing freedoms, we must remind them to consider what it would mean to lose all of their freedoms: freedoms we need to fight for and support.

(Republished from the Gaucho Gazette student newspaper.)

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