Debate: Should Citizenship Have to be Earned Via Military Service?

The whole purpose of this post is simply to make you think.  I’m not here to force my views down your throat or try to convince you to my way of thinking.  In fact, I don’t even really know how I feel about this debate topic.  But, I do find it very interesting.

I’m simply here to spark a debate about U.S. citizenship and hear what YOU think about this topic.  I hope that you can read this post objectively, put some thought into a good comment, and share what you think by leaving a comment below.

My debate question is: Should citizenship have to earned via military service in the United States?”  Should the U.S. government create a policy/law where everyone in the U.S. is born a civilian of the United States, and they have all the rights they have currently right now, except the right to vote, but could earn citizenship (and voting rights) by serving TWO YEARS in the military?

For the sake of the debate, let’s assume that EVERYONE was allowed to serve in the military, regardless of any physical ailment. And it’s also important to note that NO ONE is discriminated against, other than the right to vote.

The reason I am proposing this debate question is because I recently re-read the book “Starship Troopers” by Robert Heinlein, and it got me thinking.  Yes, the book is science fiction.  Yes, it’s about Soldiers fighting bugs on another planet.  But, I have to tell you, the book is loaded with thought provoking PRINCIPLES.  You should definitely read it if you haven’t done so already.

In the book, the people lived in a place called the Terran Federation.  Everyone was either a civilian or citizen.  Everyone was born a civilian, but citizenship had to be earned through military service.  At the age of 18, ANYONE, even the blind, deaf and handicap could join the military.  Once they successfully completed their two year military service obligation, they became a CITIZEN and had the right to vote.  They could leave the military at any time after the two years and be a citizen.

At any point, people could quit the military BEFORE their two year service obligation was up.  If they quit, they could never rejoin the military and they could never become a citizen.  It’s important to note that only citizens could vote.  Everyone had equal rights (citizens and civilians), except when it came to voting.  And no one was FORCED to join the military.

The reasoning for this law was that people who served in the military were willing to put the needs of the community above the needs of their own.  According to the book, someone who had never served in the military only thought about themselves and their own well being, so they weren’t qualified to vote for the greater good of their country.

I can definitely see a legitimate argument in this point.

Just to summarize the debate: everyone was born a civilian. Civilians had the same rights as citizens EXCEPT the right to vote. Citizenship was earned by two years of honorable military service.  Anyone could serve in the military, but no on was forced to.

What do you think?  Should the U.S. pass a similar law?  If so, why?  If not, why not?  I look forward to reading your response.

chuck holmes

Chuck Holmes
Former Army Major (resigned)

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15 thoughts on “Debate: Should Citizenship Have to be Earned Via Military Service?”

  1. I may have put a comment to another post in this section. If so, I apologize.

    I have mixed emotions about requiring an individual to serve two years to become a citizen. On one hand I think it’s a good move since each individual should appreciate their country and make some sort of sacrifice to show their appreciation.

    At the same time, how do you handle those who are physically handicapped or mentally handicapped to any degree? That law would not be fair to them.

    I have always felt down deep that those of us who are able should carry the load for those who can’t carry their own because of something they had no control over.

    I always feel obligated to protect people who can’t protect themselves.

    I think I will have to stay with the ideal that being born in the United States is enough for citizenship. I do believe that those who are plenty able should serve in some capacity though.

    It is an interesting question. It should be debated.

  2. I agree that to be elected as President of the United States, it should be a requirement to have served for two years in some form.

    I do agree that it should become law that that happens.

    It is an excellent point. A leader should lead by example.

  3. I don’t think we should require military service to be able to vote or to be a citizen. I do, however, think we should require two years of military service for every citizen as part of their civic duty. And no Greg, we old, crippled up folks won’t be out there in the foxholes guarding your back. We’ll be back home in a desk job, freeing up a healthy, fit youngster to do the protection. I truly believe the benefits to our society would be amazing in the sense of patriotism, unity, discipline, and so on learned by every citizen. I would think the only people who would not be required are mentally challenged citizens who cannot understand and follow simple directions. Like you all, I’m not being biased, just logical.

    I can foresee some major roadblocks to the idea though — do we want to provide free college educations to every single citizen since they served? Do we want to provide free health care the same way? As it stands, all the benefits enjoyed by members of the Armed Forces would pass to every single citizen who served. That will come to an awfully big bill, not just for the changes themselves but for implementing the changes as well.

  4. I don’t think military service should ever be forced. In countries where is has ALWAYS been compulsory, like Israel, it’s simply a fact of life (although there are ways around serving). But let’s face it – some people aren’t cut out for the military. It takes dedication, a genuine want to serve – and the average person won’t have that.

  5. I don't think they should make anyone join the military for any reason including to be a citizen. However I do like the military as an option for a way to become a citizen.

    No one should be forced, or more accurately I guess, coerced into joining the military. Some people don't want to be in the military for a variety of reasons and I'm fine with that. What I could get behind is everyone needing to do something like "national service" that some other countries do. Maybe you don't join the military (but you could) but you could be on a road crew, or cleaning up parks; basically doing something to help the country.

    Also, I read Starship Troopers and I love the citizen/civilian thing, but like a lot of Heinlein's ideas I prefer them on the page. The book is great though.

  6. Daniel Carrillo

    I wish they did give citizenship. Since Vietnam and even earlier immigrants have fought for this country believing, that in the end they’d become citizens. But later ended up getting deported. Maybe not as a requirement though. Where my folks were from soldiers were basically cannon fodder and this sort of reasoning kind of suggests that unless you have served you are not a true american. Which would make 99% of the american population unamerican. But definitely those who have served should immediately be given citizenship.

  7. Ooh, this is a great debate question! My initial reaction is: this is a GREAT idea! But then I got to thinking about the problems that might arise. I have personally never served and when I thought about seriously doing it I found out I was too old. I have exercised my right to vote in every election available to me since I was 18. I know many, MANY people who never vote (but they complain about the people in office).
    Now – you might also have people crawling out of the woodwork proclaiming that would turn us into a military state! What’s next fascism?

    That being said – I think it’s a great idea and I’ll even go one step further.
    Debate question#2: Do you believe that all American presidents should serve honorably in the military prior to being elected? My answer is a resounding YES.

    1. I personally believe if this law was enacted, many people would still choose NOT to serve. You are right, a lot of people have the right to vote, but don’t exercise that right.

      As far as the President having to have prior military service, I agree with you. As the Commander in Chief, in charge of the military, you need to have SOME experience as a Soldier, Airman, Marine, etc.

  8. Personally Chuck, I believe this would be a great idea. The only issue I see is, if in a war zone, I really do not want a handicapped individual guarding my back. Nothing against the handicapped, but I believe you see my point.

    I believe that in doing so, there would have to be a strict battery of tests and logic to place people where they would be the most help. The way I see our leaders, they will put a blind person as a spotter.

    The whole military system would have to go through a major adaptation for this to work, but I believe it is a great idea.

    1. Not everyone would necessarily have to serve in a war zone. if someone was handicap, blind or had some other disability, the Army could find them a job they could work in.

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