Life in the Military is not always as bad as many people perceive it. Military life is certainly a life that is stable, although it can create an avenue for one to become nomadic. It is certainly not for everyone that is why we undergo training to separate the ‘Boys’ from the ‘Men’
People have various reasons for being recruited or enlisted into the Military. For some, the Military serves only as a source of employment while others are driven by a deep admiration for the uniform. However, a large number of people join the Military for the discipline, honor, and pride associated with the profession. While all these are valid motivations, there is much more to military life than meets the eye.
If you were to ask a seasoned soldier, he will attest that Military life is very demanding and strenuous yet filled with numerous rewards for those dedicated to their duty. Wondering why? Look no further than the definition of ‘Soldiering’ itself, it means doing difficult and extraordinary things. Consequentially, you will often hear jargon like “TUNE YOUR MIND”, “SHOW INTEREST”, “PRESS ON”, and “WE CAN” among others in various Military domains.
Personally, I joined the Military for the high sense of discipline and professionalism I witnessed during my first visit to Burma Camp for the first time. At the gate stood a Military Policeman, smartly turned out with a white cross belt braced across his chest and a Pistol holstered on his right hip. With a straight face, chest-out, and a chin in, he peered closely into our vehicle. You can imagine the effect of such a face on a young lad like me! I quietly wondered what he was looking out for. With fear, I stole a glance at him and silently vowed: “I have to be a soldier”. This decision superseded my previous ambition of becoming a teacher.
Years rolled out and I finally found myself in the charismatic Military uniform, precisely, at the Military Police Corps. It sounds like a magic transformation, as easy as ABC; trust me, in a pragmatic spectrum it was the other way around. While at training, my style of dressing, walking, talking, and approaching my associates changed. I had to appear neat and exhibit a sense of maturity at all times.
My day-to-day activities were now regimented by the Military rules, including when to have a siesta. Waking-up periods were even rationed because the seeming perpetual whistle blast of the physical training instructors (PTIs) would inconvenience you in the middle of your sleep. At this point, those who were enlisted into the Armed Forces will remember the popular inscription “abandon ye all normal lives”. One must respect the blast since it prompts you that it is time for Physical Training, and woe betides you if you “switch off” (being absent-minded in any environment). You would then have opened the proverbial Pandora’s Box and you will “don” (any punishment meant to reform a defaulter) till heaven comes down and kisses the earth. The fact is, you can’t even switch off!
That was when I understood why soldiers are called “mbatema mba” which literally translated to “sons of men”. To take up this uniform, one must be ready to embrace the core values the military holds dear.
It is widely believed that Military life affects only those enlisted or recruited, but this is not entirely true; it affects their respective families as well. This life can be challenging for children of Military personnel because they are always enrolled in several schools depending on the number of Military units their parents are transferred to. Many of these children have difficulties making new friends and adapting to new environments. For the spouses, moving to and fro around the country or the world may be quite challenging for the relationship, but duty calls.
In my view, Military life requires alertness, discipline, and professionalism: there is no time to stand behind the hedge and stare as long as sheep or cows do. Every minute counts as we serve. A sense of urgency must be exhibited at all times.
In summary, true soldiers do not perform their tasks for praise or fame but for the love of mankind and selflessness. That is why we forego personal ambitions and dreams to dedicate ourselves to the country’s service. Our focus shifted from individual aspirations to the collective mission of safeguarding our nation for you to have a peaceful environment to live in.
By: Edwin Kobina COLEMAN