What It’s Really Like to Be in the Military

The Story of Evan Knappenberger, told on video.

Our peace story this month is from Evan Knappenberger, a young man who tells his own story of how and why he joined up with the military upon graduation from high school, and what he encountered in that life. This nine-minute video will speak more powerfully than just words. Also see the notes below about it’s production. Shared by permission of Evan Knappenberger and Charlottesville (Va.) Center for Peace and Justice and Veterans for Peace. We also appreciate the alternatives they point to for serving one’s country in other ways. Evan finished his degree at Eastern Mennonite University and has taken classes at Eastern Mennonite Seminary.

A Soldier’s Life


This is especially for peace-oriented people interested in counter-recruiting.  This website www.asoldierslife.org and video are made for high school students to discourage them from enlisting in the military. All of the production staff who created the 10-minute video are students, ranging from middle school to college. The Charlottesville Center for Peace and Justice and Veterans for Peace co-created the video with professional photographer and CCPJ Board member Richard Lord. Please feel free to share this with young people and their families.

In addition to the national service programs the video points to, we call attention to avenues for service through your own church or denomination and here from various Mennonite church agencies:

Service organizations:

Following is a list of Mennonite service organizations and opportunities (not exhaustive).

  • Mennonite Voluntary Service. A service organization that puts volunteers into faith communities for one to three years. Assignments can range from home repair to public health work, to youth ministry and beyond.
  • Service Adventure. A service program for young adults that provides a 10-month opportunity to work in a community somewhere in the United States with other volunteers of the same age.
  • Mennonite Disaster Service. A Mennonite organization whose members respond to disasters in order to help with cleanup and rebuilding.
  • International Volunteer Exchange Program (IVEP). A one-year work and cultural exchange program for Christians from all over the globe. Every year, 60 participants come to the US to volunteer and live with a local family. The program emphasizes peacebuilding and learning across cultures.
  • SALT. A one-year service trip, SALT takes college-age adults from the US and Canada and places them in international locations to serve others and learn. Positions are possible in a wide variety of fields including education, agriculture, healthcare, and more.
  • SEED. This two-year program brings together people from all over the world and focuses on service in rural communities in Colombia and Bolivia. Seeders serve with Mennonite Central Committee partner organizations and work locally to address poverty, violence, and oppression.
  • SOOP. Gives adults and families an opportunity to use their gifts to make a difference in others’ lives at locations throughout the United States and Canada.
  • Young Anabaptist Mennonite Exchange Network (YAMEN). A service organization for young adults outside of the US and Canada. Participants live in a new culture and serve in schools, farms, and community agencies.