Among the thousands of male recruits entering the national military as part of their conscription requirements are a handful of female volunteers in Ho Chi Minh City joining the service to realize their dreams.
Vietnamese law requires men between the ages of 18 and 25, or 18 and 27 for those who have attended college, to contribute two years of military service to the nation.
Though females are exempt from compulsory military service, young women in Ho Chi Minh City are defying social norms by volunteering to serve their country out of their love and passion for military life.
Ngo Huyen Anh Thu, a 22-year-old female with cotton-white skin and lively eyes, is this year’s only female recruit from District 12.
“My mother works in the kitchen at a military unit and I’d often join her on base when I was little,” Thu said of her first experiences with military life. “I still remember the feeling of excitement while watching the soldiers’ daily training routines, perhaps because of my admiration for my father who is also a soldier.”
Thu missed her first chance to enlist in the military during her freshman year of high school, prompting her to enroll in a military medical school for college.
Finally, two years after her graduation, the military is allowing females to enlist, and Thu plans to take full advantage of the opportunity.
“I couldn’t let my dream slip away this time,” she said. “Both my parents are my strong supporters of my decision and they understand my love for military life.”
For Tong Thi Phuong Duyen, a recruit from District 7, a desire to join the military grew from her participation in multiple parades held to commemorate Vietnam’s military victories over foreign invaders.
“‘Happy’ is the best way to describe my feelings about being able to train in a military environment,” Duyen said.
Phan Thi Thuy Tien, a 22-year-old recruit from Binh Tan District, said her mother cried her eyes out when she learned of Tien’s decision to volunteer for the service.
“She was worried that I would have a hard time in the military. All my friends were also surprised by my decision,” Tien said.
Despite having volunteered, Tien said she was still put through intense physical examinations to ensure she was fit enough to conquer physically demanding military training routines.
Also choosing a military path is Do Thi Phuong Thao, a 23-year-old from Soc Trang Province in southern Vietnam who wants to follow her father’s footsteps.
Thao’s father is Colonel Do Tat Hung, vice rector of Vietnam’s Ninth Military Region military school, which organizes, builds, manages, and commands the armed force units charged with defending the Mekong Delta.
Thao holds two bachelor’s degrees in agricultural economics and marketing, both acquired from Can Tho University, but has chosen to trade in a comfortable career path for the challenge of integrating into the armed services.
“I’ve heard that the first days [of military service] are harsh and challenging, so I’m a bit worried,” Thao confessed. “But there’s no reason I can’t succeed if my male peers can.”
-Tuoi Tre News