"Everyone is called upon to preserve the militia system."
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"Everyone is called upon to preserve the militia system."

Andreas Müller from the Swiss Association of Municipalities discusses the Year of Militia Service and how to encourage social commitment.

The Worry Barometer shows that people think volunteer work is worthy of more public recognition. How can we make this happen?

One of the main objectives of the Year of Militia Service was to increase appreciation for the more than 100,000 people who are actively serving in Switzerland's militia. There were events, publications, contests and prizes all related to militia service, and the Swiss National Day event held on the Rütli this year was dedicated to recognizing militia service – more than 2,000 active service people took part. We need to have more activities in the years to come.

Respondents are open to adding other mandatory militia services, similar to the military and civilian services. What kinds of services could these be?

A popular initiative will be held in 2020 for introducing a general civil service. This would be a service where men and women could choose between military service and other types of service, and the idea is that these would include militia activities like volunteering with the fi re department or in political offices.

Respondents support a wide range of measures aimed at supporting militia service. Which ones do you consider worthwhile?

That depends on who the measure is for. When it comes to performing a militia service, it's all about "wanting to," "being able to" and "being allowed to." There are people who want to get involved but are prevented from doing so by a constraint such as their job. Others who could be involved don't want to because they lack the motivation or fear of public criticism. Finally, there are those who are not permitted to because they do not reside in a certain municipality or they are not Swiss citizens, which is a requirement for certain kinds of work. Different measures are necessary for each of these scenarios. The best answer for the situation will be a mix of different measures.

All the same, one in four respondents consider volunteering to be a private matter which should not be actively promoted. What do you make of that?

That could be related to the discrepancy that exists between an underlying support and a lack of willingness to participate on an individual level. Everyone is in favor but is still happy when someone else actually does the work. And yet the political militia system only works when the offices are actually staff ed. Therefore, it is up to all of us to find ways to participate so that the militia system will still be around in 2030 or 2040.