Military personnel is a term for anyone who has served in the military. The term covers all branches of the military; in the United States, military personnel comprises all members of the US Army, Navy, Marines, and Air Force. Officers and enlisted members both fit the term, although typically it only applies to people currently serving or working for the military, rather than veterans.
How military personnel choose to enter the armed forces is often dependent on the structure of the country's military. In Israel, for instance, nearly all citizens must serve two years in a branch of the military. Some countries, such as Denmark, Hungary, and Sweden, feature militaries that are usually volunteer enterprises, but will institute a limited draft in times of war or during other special circumstances. Other countries, such as the United States, Ireland, the United Kingdom, and India, currently rely on completely voluntary systems.
Military personnel serve in a variety of jobs and efforts throughout the world. The goal of most militaries is to protect the country's interests through many different means. Highly trained in combat, military personnel are the instrument of war, but this is far from their only capability or function. Military personnel may be deployed on peacekeeping or humanitarian missions, serve as recruiters or educators, provide medical services, or work with intelligence agencies.
In many countries, the government largely takes responsibility for the health and well-being of its military personnel. As it is in the interest of the country to have a strong and loyal military, providing services to enrich the lives of military personnel and their families is a vital part of the agreement between a soldier and his or her country. In exchange for their service, most people who serve in the military are eligible for at least some health care benefits, housing, access to scholarships and educational funds, and even help transitioning to other careers once their service term is up.
Helping pay for college education is a tactic often used to aid recruitment efforts. In troubled economic time, talented young men and women are sometimes unable to pay for college. By serving in the military, they may be given extensive scholarships or even have tuition fully covered by the government. In times of war, this tactic loses some of its appeal, as the bargain may seem too risky to many.
Although viewpoints on the military and its actions are diverse and a source of great conflict, people serving in the military are often admired for their courage and willingness to set aside civilian life and accept dangerous circumstance for the good of their country. In countries with out compulsory service, many find it impressive that over so many people choose to accept possible death, often miserable circumstances, and almost certainly danger in an effort to benefit their homeland and protect their friends and families. Regardless of personal views on the choices of the military, many people agree that military personnel cannot be called anything but patriots.