Compulsory military service

Article 47 of the Verordnung über die Militärdienstpflicht (VMDP) lays down the rules for the training service obligation, shaping the military path for soldiers and conscripts across all ranks.

Having completed my recruitment school in 2017, my narrative military roadmap looked something like this: a concise 2-day initiation, an extended 145 days of recruitment school, and a sequence of 5 repetition courses, each lasting approximately 19 days. The arithmetic of my service adds up to 245 days. Notably, for those who underwent recruitment school after 2017, there was a slight modification in the roadmap. This adjustment involved exchanging the original shorter recruitment school duration (124 days) with the addition of one more repetition course.

Between 2018 and 2021, I navigated the challenges of balancing my academic pursuits with the mandatory yearly repetition courses. To manage this, I deferred these courses to the summer breaks, creating a unique situation where I served as a guest in another company that aligned with their repetition course schedule. In 2020, due to the pandemic, I didn’t serve, as all non-crucial repetition courses were canceled. While others were basking in the summer sun and enjoying their break, I found myself dedicated to military service. Needless to say, morale wasn’t exactly soaring high during those times. It wasn’t the typical summer experience, but at least there were plenty of others in the same boat. We had the opportunity to work with or be in close proximity to helicopters and jets, which is always exciting.

Here’s a snapshot of the chapters that compose my military deployments:

Year Type of service Military Company Days
2017 Recruitment Recruitment center Rüti 2
2017 Recruitment school (RS) FL RS 81-2 145
2018 Repetition courses (WK) LT KP 2 20
2019 Repetition courses (WK) L FLAB LWF ABT 5 26
2021 Repetition courses (WK) FL KP 13 19
2022 Repetition courses (WK) LT KP 2 22
2023 Repetition courses (WK) LT KP 2 11

Military service and personal life

Having traversed the trenches of military service in the Swiss Air Force as an aviation soldier (air transport), the nostalgia that tugs at my memories is a blend of shared hardships and camaraderie. There's a certain allure in recalling the synchronized drills, the barracks banter, and the unspoken understanding among comrades who wore the same uniform and faced the same challenges. Yet, beneath the veneer of nostalgia lies a stark reality check. The romanticized recollections don't erase the, at times, tough physical and psychological demands, the regimented lifestyle, and the sacrifices that come bundled with military service. The memories of camaraderie are tinged with the acknowledgment of the personal freedoms relinquished and the toll it took on relationships outside the barracks. The longing for those shared experiences is tempered by the recognition of the hardships and the toll on mental and physical well-being. The allure of the past is undercut by the reality of missed family moments, the strain of constant vigilance, and the unpredictability of deployments. Life after the military becomes a delicate dance between cherishing the formative experiences and grappling with the desire for a more autonomous, less regimented existence. Nostalgia serves as a reminder of the transformative nature of military service, but it doesn't mask the critical assessment of the toll it exacts and the conscious choice to forge a new path beyond its confines.
Super Puma with Bambi Bucket During Training Flight (2022)

Discharge from military service

Swiss Armed Forces members begin their military journey as soldiers, and after completing the compulsory military service, they transition from active duty to reserves, maintaining readiness until their eventual discharge.

As part of the reserve formations, specifically the highly-ready (MmhB) units, a rapid response capability is demanded from us. Within 24 to 96 hours, several thousand personnel can be mobilized, supporting civilian authorities as needed. This agility allows for a staggered reinforcement and tailored augmentation of initial deployment elements, ensuring an effective response to diverse situations.

Every Armed Forces member equipped with an assault rifle is required to participate in an annual shooting exercise at a rifle club, with the obligation continuing until the final year preceding their discharge from military service, so this will be my only point of contact with the military until my discharge from military service. Oh, and yes, I look forward to the day when I get discharged from the military.