As you may know, every man in Switzerland has to do his military service. I will explain briefly how our army works. As a Swiss citizen, the year you turn 16, you are invited for an information day. During this day, you learn about the different functions you can perform in the army. At the end of the day, you have to decide when you want to do your military service. Following this information day, you receive another invitation for the recruitment procedure, two days where you are tested on different levels. Based on the results obtained during these two days, the Colonel of the Recruitment Center assigns you a function.
From the age of 18, you can begin your military service. Of course, if you do not wish to serve in the army, you can decide to serve our country as a civil servant or if you are not able to serve Switzerland, you can pay a tax on your salary for about 10 years. As a reminder, this tax is about 3% of your monthly salary or a minimum of 400 Swiss francs per year.
In short, on July 3, 2017, I had the pleasure to join the Panzer 21-2 School in Thun. On the first day, they welcome you with open arms, they give you some of your equipment, and it is also at this time that you discover the military world. When I arrived in the barracks, they were looking for volunteers to serve as troop accountants and office orderlies. At the beginning of this adventure, I was a soldier at an operational level. Basically, my job was to set up radio networks so that the different troops could communicate with each other. I thought that if I moved to another job as a troop accountant, I could gain experience that would be useful in civilian life. So I volunteered to become a troop accountant.
For the first two weeks I followed the same training as my comrades, and then we were sent on a training course to learn the job of troop accountant. It was a very intensive two weeks during which we were able to meet new people from other battalions.
At the end of this training, we all returned to our respective barracks to perform our new duties. With our quartermaster, we had different duties, for example we were responsible for transporting food to our comrades in the field, and we had to go shopping for the company or prepare the pay. During week 7 of our recruit school, we all had an interview with the Major to find out whether we were considering staying in the army or not.
For me, it was almost normal to want to continue the adventure as a quartermaster. I wanted above all to serve my country, as my grandfather had done in the French army, he had unfortunately passed away a week before I took up my duties. My grandfather had been very proud that I had joined the army, he often told me what he had experienced during the war, as you can imagine, life was not always rosy.
From week 10 to week 21, I had the opportunity to replace our quartermaster as a regular soldier. As a reminder, the quartermaster takes care of various tasks, he manages the secretariat, and he buys food with the kitchen’s chef, distributes the field post, and also manages all the financial aspects of the troop’s life. By serving as a soldier in this capacity, I have gained additional experience that will certainly be useful to me in civilian life.
Throughout these 21 weeks, I have been able to meet fantastic people from different parts of Switzerland, it is also there that you realize the army is introducing you to new people, where your network of contacts is growing. You meet people you’ll probably see again in civilian life, and who knows, you may even work with some of them.
I hope you enjoyed this article.