Monday, April 11, 2011

I hate the army

I don't really. I shouldn't. It keeps me safe and allows me to go places with less risk of getting hurt.

But I just hate how it so royally f's up so many people's lives, particularly those who did not go in when they were 18 and just out of high school. The IDF, particularly the non-career soldiers, is geared towards 18 and 19 year olds who have just finished high school and have not yet gotten higher education or in any way really started their lives.

For the others, olim, people who decided at a later age to volunteer, and those who already have life experience beyond high school-- the army interrupts their lives. Many people who choose to serve at a later age who are non-combat positions and actually get into the unit/area they want-- they're very happy. But that doesn't mean the army doesn't screw up things for them, too. A friend from Ulpan wanted to go in for 1 year-- the army made her go in for 2, despite her age (24) and the original statement that she would only have to serve 1 year. She's a few months in. Another friend who is also 24 volunteered-- she is in the unit she wants and I'm not sure how many months she's doing. Another friend who made aliyah in his mid 20's and went to law school and then volunteered-- he just went in at 29. The army is not designed for people who have lives already.

Combat soldiers? Forget it...your life as you knew it or thought it could be is over. If you're married-- maybe you get to go home for Shabbat. If you're not married, you don't have a life. You don't. Say you have every other Shabbat out-- let's just say, because that's pretty standard for many. get out, in theory, Thursday (which could be anywhere from the morning to the night) and depending on the time you get out, by the time you get home, you have just enough time to start a load of laundry so you can do the next one, etc. so that your clothes will all be dry before you pack them up for the next two weeks. You have until Sunday morning-- say...anywhere between 9 and 11 am (usually; depends where you have to be) to be back at your base. Besides the laundry, you also have to take care of the things you couldn't do over the past two weeks were in the army and couldn't leave. Hope your bank is open on Friday...or that you have everything you need so you can go directly from base to the bank... If you do not keep Shabbat, you have Friday and Saturday (Shabbat) to hang out with friends and family, relax, watch TV/movies. And finish your laundry. But you're usually sleeping a lot of the time. If you do keep Shabbat, you have until Shabbat comes in (just before sunset on Friday) and after Shabbat (about 24 hours plus 72 minutes from when Shabbat started) to do all those things and then on Shabbat you have time to hang out with friends, read, sleep, etc. Now try to have a social life in there. Where? I don't know. I guess it makes sense not to date (seriously date, not just screw around- pun not intended) until after the army. But when you're married, it's really hard-- you are away from your spouse for at least a week and you're expected to be able to have a normal relationship?! Major props to those who are doing this.
And it's so frustrating. It's very difficult to have a normal life when you're away from your family for 2 weeks (at least) at a shot and then to expect to be able to have normal relationships with people other than your army buddies? You get used to it...but it's still not normal and sometimes not possible. Another friend has been engaged for almost 2 years because she wasn't able to marry when she was in the army. It really-- forces you to put your life on hold or not be in a place (for many people; not all) to have a relationship that requires a lot of maintenance (talking about combat positions; non-combat is very different and does allow a lot more of having a "normal" life). And it's hard for those of us who aren't in the army and want to have a relationship-- any kind of relationship-- with those in the army. Call to say hi-- "Sorry, I can't talk, I'm busy." And they're busy every time you call because their schedule keeps getting changed and this one wants to switch and they go out for this operation and that job...and when they can in theory talk, it's either 2 am or you're at work. Or about to go to sleep. Or they're going to sleep because they're so damn tired.

It sucks.

I'm not in the army, and a large part of the reason I didn't volunteer was this-- I have a life already, I've begun it. And serving in the IDF would have meant putting my life on hold for a short amount of time, learning to do something new because they don't have OT in the army, and then resuming it 6 months later, or even a year later; they wouldn't take me for longer. In any event, it's putting my life on hold. At the age of 25, when it's not matim at all for me to start. I can do more and better for the country outside the army.

But it still affects me and my life and what kinds of relationships I have with my friends who are in the army.

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