free hit counter code National Service would be great for my teens but here’s my problem with it – Freeht.buzz

National Service would be great for my teens but here’s my problem with it

Two fully armed British soldiers on a mission in a forest.
The military aspect of National Service is a billion-pound waste of money, argues Hannah (Picture: Getty Images)

‘Mum! They’re going to make us go into the Army at 18,’ my 15-year-old said while she was lying on my bed, browsing ASOS, clearly disgusted at the news. 

As much as I wanted to tell her that the idea of bringing back National Service is just another desperate gimmick from Rishi Sunak as he tries to court the old-fashioned right-wing brigade, I was tempted to say I’d already put her name on the waiting list. 

My daughters, who are 12 and 15, are the kind of kids who are so pampered, they refused to leave London for a residential trip to the countryside. They couldn’t live without their hair straighteners, so no wonder they’re horrified by the idea of a year in the military. 

I’ll be the first to concede that they could benefit from learning how to work in a team, self-discipline and tidiness, but there are other ways to do that, which don’t involve joining a regiment. 

National Service was originally a post-war scheme that meant physically fit men between 17 and 21 had to serve in the armed forces for 18 months. The Tories’ announcement that they want to bring it back is supposed to get older voters’ juices flowing just in time for the ‘Genny Lex.’

Anyone with common sense will argue that the military aspect of National Service is a billion-pound waste of money. 

Former naval chief Adm Alan West has described the plan as ‘bonkers’; Labour leader Keir Starmer branded the idea of a ‘teenage dad’s army’, ‘desperate’. 



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And as it was abolished in 1960, it’s ancient history to young people. If Sunak has any hope of getting their votes, he’s just crushed it. (The poor man’s on TikTok too. Next thing we know he’ll be frugging to Bronski Beat.)  

Besides, the last thing the hard-working Armed Forces need are a bunch of whingeing teenagers cruising in on electric scooters, sniggering at TikTok and moaning about having to get up before midday.

Forcing headstrong 18-year-olds to do something they don’t want to is hardly a morale booster. 

But there is the tiniest glimmer of a good idea in all this.

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Giving teenagers the opportunity to volunteer, help their communities and learn more about people outside their own echo chamber. 

Mixing with older people is so beneficial for both generations, as I saw in the pre-Covid days when my daughters’ school choir went to sing at a care home. 

And I know I personally benefit from volunteering at a disco for over-65s – I can’t think of anything I do that’s more uplifting. 

Research by the National Council For Voluntary Organisations (NCVO) reported that 77% of 18-24-year-old volunteers felt less isolated after volunteering. 

So getting young people who are able to give up one weekend a month to spend time with people who work in the NHS or help older people who are isolated isn’t a massive sacrifice, but it could be a real eye-opener. 

Hannah Verdier smiling while out at a restaurant.
Hannah personally benefits from volunteering, and thinks her daughters would too – but not by joining a regiment (Picture: Hannah Verdier)

The best skills we can give our teenagers are a sense of compassion and empathy – and that comes from learning about other people’s lives and being able to help those who need it. While volunteering has obvious benefits, billing it as National Service is alarmist.

I’ve seen people argue that National Service will give the younger generation a sense of pride in ‘Great’ Britain. I’m not being funny, but faced with an under-funded NHS and no chance of ever owning their own homes, it’ll take a lot more than that to give young people a feeling of hope or patriotism.

And does it even occur to the Conservative Party that not everyone would be able to afford an entire year off after school ends? 

What about young carers, already shouldering the responsibility of earning and looking after their families, or youngsters living with disabilities and mental health conditions, who face having their benefits cut

Soldiers marching in line.
Spending £2.5 billion on National Service is not what the UK needs right now, says Hannah (Picture: Getty Images)

This generation of teenagers have already had it particularly tough, with their education disrupted and their mental health in crisis after the pandemic… so there does need to be caveats in any type of mandated scheme. 

All political parties would be wise to actually spend some time around young people before plucking these policies out of thin air. 

Young people aren’t the selfish losers they’re painted as. My daughters and their friends would love the chance to do something useful to help other people.

Start them volunteering sooner, while they’re at school, rather than when they’re trying to make a living or start a degree. 

How do you feel about the idea of National Service? Have your say in the comments belowComment Now

Taking a couple of hours out of the school week to do voluntary work could be hugely beneficial in terms of teaching kids empathy and new skills. 

I’ve seen how much volunteering has helped my own mental health – it’s not just a selfless act, but a way to give yourself a boost by doing something good for others.

We could even make it a GCSE so that 15 and 16-year-olds learn practical skills that will help them find their purpose and step into jobs they love.

I want to give my children the mental resilience they need to become the kind of employees the country needs. 

If National Service was a fully-funded, Government-backed scheme to support young people to volunteer rather than a scary prospect of being sent off to the military, I’d definitely encourage my daughters to take part.

But spending £2.5billion on the scheme is not what the UK and our teetering economy needs right now.

The money this scheme is slated to cost could be better spent improving NHS services, alleviating child poverty, supporting teenage carers – and providing real training schemes to get young people in the workplace.

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