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Old 08.02.2011, 18:59
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Question about Military Service

Hi, everyone! I'm (or will be - will explain below) an American-Swiss who just turned 18 and so I had a couple of questions about my "Militärdienst."

My grandparents came to the US from CH, so my mom is a Swiss citizen. We're currently in the process of registering my sister and me with the local Swiss consulate (we weren't registered at birth) and making us official citizens since I plan on moving to Switzerland once I complete college. But concerning my military conscription, I had a couple of questions. First off, how do I find out if I medically qualify? My grandfather was disqualified from his because of flat feet, and my feet are worse than his so I expect I'm gonna be disqualified as well. And if I do qualify for military service, is there a way to get out of it? (I've heard by paying extra taxes you can get out of it.) If I have to do it, I'm concerned about the language barrier. I can speak hochdeutsch ok, but my züritüütsch is god awful.

Thanks for your advice!
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Old 08.02.2011, 19:20
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Re: Question about Military Service

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Hi, everyone! I'm (or will be - will explain below) an American-Swiss who just turned 18 and so I had a couple of questions about my "Militärdienst."

My grandparents came to the US from CH, so my mom is a Swiss citizen. We're currently in the process of registering my sister and me with the local Swiss consulate (we weren't registered at birth) and making us official citizens since I plan on moving to Switzerland once I complete college. But concerning my military conscription, I had a couple of questions. First off, how do I find out if I medically qualify? My grandfather was disqualified from his because of flat feet, and my feet are worse than his so I expect I'm gonna be disqualified as well. And if I do qualify for military service, is there a way to get out of it? (I've heard by paying extra taxes you can get out of it.) If I have to do it, I'm concerned about the language barrier. I can speak hochdeutsch ok, but my züritüütsch is god awful.

Thanks for your advice!
Someone I know said he got out of doing this on the basis he was not all there mentally. At first I thought he meant he acted the part but over the years, as I've gotten to know him better, I've had to revise my opinion on that. . . . Dunno on the paying extra taxes angle, however.

Another Swiss colleague of mine who went through Military Service had the social activities time of his life whilst doing so ie loads of nights out on the town in Zurich et al and actually looked forward to when he had to go on it. I guess it can't be all that bad but then what do I know on that?
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Old 08.02.2011, 19:38
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Re: Question about Military Service

So you want the privileges that come with the red passport, but don't want to fulfill the responsibilities that come with it? Gee what a catch!

Wrt to not speaking Swiss German, I was under the impression that orders were given in High German...
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Old 08.02.2011, 21:41
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Re: Question about Military Service

Health reasons aside, my understanding is that no one gets out of military service. CEOS, farmers with crops to attend to, etc...

My husband was excused from serving his mandatory 3 weeks of military service for 2 years in a row. In the meantime, his company had to pay several thousand francs for each year he missed. However, he had to make-up the missed time.

I believe that the current law says that if you do not serve military (because you are out of the country for example) that you can be required only until the age of 35. So you could wait until you are 35 years old to go to Switzerland if you are bent on not serving military.

Not really my business, but if you are so interested in Switzerland and being Swiss, why not do the military time like all of the other young lads? You might learn a few things about the country and culture.

By the way, "Studies analyzing the correlation between flat feet and physical injury in soldiers have been inconclusive, but none suggest that flat feet are an impediment, at least in soldiers who reached the age of military recruitment without prior foot problems. " (Wiki-flat feet)
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Old 08.02.2011, 21:44
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Re: Question about Military Service

If you have flat feet, they can put you into the regiment of cycling soldiers that support tanks.

Hope that helps you in your quest.

Daphne
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Old 09.02.2011, 00:15
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Re: Question about Military Service

I have flat feet and I served. But they put me in the air force (not as a pilot), not the infantry. That helped and the food was better too.

But, I see you live in the US and as long as you live abroad you will not need to serve unless you volunteer to do so (which does not appear to be your intention). However, in lieu of serving you will need to pay a tax to the Swiss embassy. If you do not pay up they will probably not renew your passport.

After a certain age they don't make you serve anymore anyway (I don't know what the cutoff is, maybe someone else does). Instead they will make you do Civil Protection duty. That is a huge waste of time as you sit around all day drinking coffee, listening to sirens or building stuff and then dismantling it again...
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Old 09.02.2011, 00:29
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Re: Question about Military Service

A number of Swiss men that I have spoken to really enjoyed their service and one or two of them were people that naturalised here. I would say that it would be a really good way to integrate into the country that you are moving to and planning on being a citizen of.
If I could do Swiss milliatary service, I would.
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Old 09.02.2011, 01:26
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Re: Question about Military Service

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First off, how do I find out if I medically qualify? My grandfather was disqualified from his because of flat feet, and my feet are worse than his so I expect I'm gonna be disqualified as well.
Flat feet won't get you out of the army anymore, that was a long time ago. To know if you qualify, you normally go through a kind of orientation day that happens once a year. I think they will send you an 'invite' if you are swiss after you register at the local office (commune) as a resident.

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And if I do qualify for military service, is there a way to get out of it? (I've heard by paying extra taxes you can get out of it.)
Normally, you can only avoid it if they consider you unfit. When they down-sized the army, they made it possible to opt for a community service instead, but this is about to be reversed because too many people chose this option.

If you are considered unfit, you *will* pay an army tax unless you do some civil service. I think the age limit for the army is now 30 years old.

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If I have to do it, I'm concerned about the language barrier. I can speak hochdeutsch ok, but my züritüütsch is god awful.
I wouldn't be too concerned about the language barrier. Probably close to 30% of the population around here doesn't understand schwyzerdütsch anyway, and they do just fine

I can think of many ways to spend time more usefully than going to the army, but then, I didn't do it. I found civil service more appealing to me (although often boring).
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Old 09.02.2011, 01:31
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Re: Question about Military Service

not sure why anyone would want to skip swiss military service. i wish i qualified and could spend a few weeks each year in the open and playing with rifles.

it's not as though you're at risk of being packed off to invade afghanistan...
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Old 09.02.2011, 01:42
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Re: Question about Military Service

Flat feet can be a positive boon for military service; you don't sink into the mud so quickly.

HTH
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Old 09.02.2011, 07:53
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Re: Question about Military Service

In any case, based on the shapes and sizes of young men that
i see in uniform, it doesn't look like they reject anyone on physical fitness grounds here.

So long as you have both arms and legs, and can see and hear well, you should be good
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Old 09.02.2011, 08:12
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Re: Question about Military Service

From what I've heard, it can be a great place to network for your future career. Assuming, of course, working for a living is part of your future plans.
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Old 09.02.2011, 08:15
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Don't worry, they'll let you off based on the lack of dialect. Yes, the theory is that it's run in high german, but in practice, have you heard some of the swiss version of high german?

I went through the whole thing last year, qualified as a grenadier, but the attending dr. told me to go home - based not on high german, but dialect.

The other option is to keep out of the country until you're 26, as then you're no longer eligible to serve.



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Old 09.02.2011, 08:20
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Re: Question about Military Service

Something like 40% - 50% of those that are supposed to do it don't. Usually "health" or "psychological" reasons. Basically almost anyone that has at least half a brain and wants to get out of it gets out.

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From what I've heard, it can be a great place to network for your future career. Assuming, of course, working for a living is part of your future plans.
Was true 20 or 30 years ago but now very much no longer the case. Most companies have realised that the military mentality is not the same as busines mentality.

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In any case, based on the shapes and sizes of young men that
i see in uniform, it doesn't look like they reject anyone on physical fitness grounds here.
Oh yes they do!
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Old 09.02.2011, 08:23
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Re: Question about Military Service

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First off, how do I find out if I medically qualify? My grandfather was disqualified from his because of flat feet, and my feet are worse than his so I expect I'm gonna be disqualified as well.
Congrats - you are well qualified for a career in the police force.

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If I have to do it, I'm concerned about the language barrier. I can speak hochdeutsch ok, but my züritüütsch is god awful.
Another high-in-demand qualification in the Zurich police force. Finally they'll get someone to deal with all the Ausländer criminals from Germany.
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Old 09.02.2011, 08:32
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Re: Question about Military Service

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Was true 20 or 30 years ago but now very much no longer the case. Most companies have realised that the military mentality is not the same as busines mentality.
That's a little bit of a different issue than my point, though it is appreciated. One can network without losing one's business acumen to the grind of the military machine.
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Old 09.02.2011, 08:42
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Re: Question about Military Service

If you have any questions on military services as a Swiss-US Citizen contact:
Führungsstab der Armee, Personelles der Armee (FGG 1), Sektion Wehrpflicht/ Mutationen, 3003 Bern, Tel. 031 324 32 56, Fax 031 324 14 92 or E-Mail.

Also as dual national you will probably fall under the:
Convention relative to military obligations of certain persons having dual nationality

This convention provides that a person born in the territory of one of the Contracting Parties, of parents who are nationals of the other, who possesses the nationality of the United States and Switzerland, and has his habitual residence in the State of his birth, shall not be held liable by the other State for military service or for payment of taxes in lieu thereof, even in the case of a temporary stay in the latter State. If this stay is protracted beyond the period of two years a special regulation applies.
http://www.admin.ch/ch/d/sr/i1/0.141.133.6.de.pdf (in German)

So it depends on what your long term plans are regarding your stay in Switzerland.
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Old 09.02.2011, 08:51
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But, I see you live in the US and as long as you live abroad you will not need to serve unless you volunteer to do so (which does not appear to be your intention). However, in lieu of serving you will need to pay a tax to the Swiss embassy. If you do not pay up they will probably not renew your passport.

After a certain age they don't make you serve anymore anyway (I don't know what the cutoff is, maybe someone else does). Instead they will make you do Civil Protection duty. That is a huge waste of time as you sit around all day drinking coffee, listening to sirens or building stuff and then dismantling it again...
I am swiss in more or less the same way you are, op, and lived in the us from 18-30. I wasn't required to pay any special conscription dodging tax. I was registered with the SF consulate and successfully renewed my passport without a hitch.

I think the age cutoff for swiss living abroad to be required to serve upon reintegration is around 25-26 (I could be wrong, though I know 30 is too old). So go to grad school after college and you should be okay to move here shortly afterward. Though i don't see what the harm would be of just going. Unlike some other forces, in the swiss military you won't be killing Muslims or dressing them up in embarrassing outfits.

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Old 09.02.2011, 08:57
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That's a little bit of a different issue than my point, though it is appreciated. One can network without losing one's business acumen to the grind of the military machine.
Even networking opportunities are increasingly limited. The proportion of university students doing military service is even lower than the general population - one would expect these to be more likely to be the future business leaders.
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Old 09.02.2011, 09:05
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Re: Question about Military Service

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Wrt to not speaking Swiss German, I was under the impression that orders were given in High German...
Or Italian, or French, depends where they send you (they often send people to other language regions, my Ticinese colleagues have often spent training in the German part, and I've seen many German speakers training here).

Tom
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