Working and not working for the army
How 14 months of my life were stolen in the army 
by Giorgio

A conscript from Italy counts the unwaged work of being in the National Service in the 1970s:

  •  Working to avoid it

  •  Working to physical exhaustion for months on end.

  •  Doing nothing for months on end and yet having to be there.

  •  Suggesting ways in which you could work less by being more efficient.

  •  Refraining from doing it for fear of having to work more.

  •  Lying about skills you don't have to get a better deal.

  •  Hiding your skills for fear of having to use them for the military.

  •  Hoping that there is no war, especially while you are serving.

  •  Fighting a war.

  •  Doing meaningless thing (drill).

  •  Doing emotional housework for frustrated officers who the next day will treat you worse than before.

  •  Coping with the food and the cold in barracks with no heating; risking to die of pneumonia or meningitis because of the cold.

  •  Faking illnesses to work less and be somewhere warm in the winter.

  •  Losing sleep on guard duty.

  •  Sleeping on guard duty, fearing to be sent to military jail if you are caught.

  •  Fighting against the seniority hierarchy among conscripts.

  •  Keeping an eye on scabs and informers.

  •  Being singled out as a political agitator.

  •  Being used as slave labour during emergencies (earthquakes, "natural"     catastrophes).

  •  Being used as strike-breakers.

  •  Being used to enforce a coup.

  •  Licking officers' boots for a few days off.

  •  Risking your life during exercises.

  •  Getting wounded and maimed.

  •  Inflicting yourself wounds to be able to go home.

  •  Going to military prison if you are caught.

  •  Suffering nervous breakdowns.

  •  Attempting and committing suicide.

  •  Having to break friendships and lose contact with other conscripts when they are    moved to other places.

  •  Being a burden on your family, since the pay is nominal.

  •  Coping with people telling you that everyone does it, so why don't you take it easy.

  •  Listening to politicians who tell you that the national service is great, "an army born from the Resistance", or that "you should do it so that you learn how to use guns against the bourgeoisie" (Communist Party), while none of them was ever in it, and that women should also do it in order to be equal.

  •  Facing indifference and sometimes hostility from civilian population.

  •  Being homesick and isolated in a strange place.

  •  Being compelled to socialise with people you may not want to in ways you may not want to.

  •  Seeing your relationships with partners being spoiled.

  •  Worrying about how your wife and children will cope with no money while you are in the service.

  •  Coping with the army’s sexism and homophobia.

The National Service in Italy.
You are recruited at 19-20, but later if you are studying.  The draft lasts for 10 months and you are paid £50 (US$75) a month. You are drafted even if you are married - not if you have children. They stopped recruiting fathers about 25 years ago, when women brought their children into the barracks, telling the military to support them.  In my experience it is an enormous burden on your family in any case. Alternatively, one can choose the so-called "civil service", where you work in an office or a workshop or anywhere else in the community for the same period and the same pay.

Refusing to kill