|Swiss basement emergency shelter with blast door.|
My husband's family is Swiss, and in part, because of this, we have a lot of Swiss friends. Interestingly, a lot of these friends are engineers, like my husband, and so they have been helpful not only as good friends, but professionally as well. I miss one couple who returned to Switzerland after their kids were grown, very much. There are still a few Swiss friends we have locally. Between the horses, my job, our family, the clinic, and other things I do, I haven't been keeping up with them as well as I would like.
The Swiss are remarkable people. They remained neutral during the war, and this meant that they needed to be extremely vigilant and well trained to avoid invasion. This helped to evolve a system in which all men and women, upon maturity provide service of several years to the Swiss military. ** All of them learn to handle a rifle and shoot very well, and are required to have weapons in their homes forevermore. There is also a military reserve that many Swiss adults belong to for much of their lives. Although children in school do receive instruction in preparedness, the military teaches high level disaster preparedness to all of its soldiers. In virtually every Swiss apartment building, and almost every home there, an emergency shelter exists in the basement, with food supplies. There are also large shelters which are to be used in larger scale disasters. These larger underground shelters are required to hold a two year supply of food. The food is rotated and restocked by the military, by Swiss young adults who have chosen to work in national preparedness for their military service.
The Swiss also send their peacekeeping forces all over the world to help to support the world's other fighting forces. They do also have professional soldiers who remain in the military for their working lifetimes.
I don't know that in the US we need to draft everyone for three years worth of military and/or disaster preparedness service to the community, however it's nice to know that somewhere is taking the possibilities so seriously. Perhaps there are some things about disaster preparedness education we could apply to American life.
This week I visited with one of our Swiss friends. She had been in Switzerland visiting family, and I have been consumed with my own family and activities, so our catching up took a long time. We finally got to the economy and politics. I asked her if she thought that she too might return to Switzerland if dangerous or difficult times come to the US. She thought for a moment and said, "No. I am a citizen now, and this is where I live, and probably will die. No matter what happens here, no matter how many freedoms we lose, this is my home now." I admire her courage. She and her husband could easily transfer back to a job with the company her husband worked for, which sent them here. I am glad to have them here as calm and organized voices in preparedness, and as friends.
** In point of fact the references I used indicate that men are conscripted and that military service for women is in fact, voluntary. However, all of our female Swiss friends served in the military during their youth.
A prior post on Swiss preparedness: