Military service easiest after high school

Liis Velsker
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Young men should report for compulsory military service straight out of high school when their health and physical condition is best and motivation higher, a study by the Estonian National Defense College finds.

Almost every third young man is prone to depression toward the beginning of military service. It is notable that this affinity increases as the soldier’s base course progresses.

More than a fifth of conscripts have a chronic disease or health problem. The frequency of medical problems increases with conscripts’ age, the study reads.

The study, carried out by the Estonian Institute for Health Development and University of Tartu researchers, finds that men with very different takes on life enter military service. Favorable attitude and behavioral predisposition help those who are generally in favor of military service to cope better (lower dropout rate, greater willingness for active duty) and be more satisfied with the time spent in training. They are less critical of their fellow conscripts and superiors.

The best time to enter military service is right after graduating from high school when young people are in the best medical and physical shape. Younger people are also more willing to go through military service, compared to later in life when people prefer to concentrate on family and work life.

The study found that conscription improved young people’s assessment of their medical condition, both during the base course and later.

The health and physical ability of men is age-related. Conscripts who are 18-19 years old give their health and physical form much higher marks and are also more successful at performing the general physical test. If among 18-19-year-olds no fewer than 72 percent of conscripts believe they are in good or very good health, that figure drops to just 40 percent among 23-27-year-olds.

Most diagnosed health problems include injuries, traumas, and intoxications, joint disorders, backpain, and allergies. It is noteworthy that the number of conscripts with joint problems almost doubles during the base course.

Nearly one-third of conscripts took prescription medication during military service, most often for joint pains and inflammations, as well as other kinds of pain. More conscripts use prescription drugs after completing the base course.

Military service was found to be physically difficult by 8-12 percent of conscripts, while a similar number of conscripts found it wasn’t demanding enough.