Today, twin sisters Lu Wan-hsiu (
The 19-year-old sisters from Yanpu Township (鹽埔) in Pingtung County, where their parents are farmers, graduated from National Neipu Senior Agricultural-Industrial Vocational High School in June 2005.
The pair say that the economic situation, the prospect of high university tuition fees and other financial pressures prompted their decision to become soldiers, adding that the salary gives them a sense of security. They hope to be able to save NT$3 million (US$92,000) to NT$4 million during their four-year stint in the army.
Lu Wan-ping said that their first pay check was already larger than what their former classmates make working in coffee shops, and that the extra subsidies for being stationed on an outlying island will give them a salary almost twice what their friends make, at around NT$37,000 per month.
Lu Wan-hsiu joked that she needs to save up for her dowry, but adds the money will come in handy if she wants to go into business or continue studying in the future.
The two applied together with a friend who had already failed on her first application. As a result, the trio decided to put down three positions as communications soldiers on Matsu as their first choice, since they felt there would be less competition for a posting on one of the outlying islands.
Lu Wan-hsiu said their parents were not against them joining the army but when they learned that they volunteered to be posted in Matsu, the country's frontline, some convincing was required before they could accept the girls' decision.
When asked if there was a possibility that they would try to become non-commissioned officers, the two answered in unison that they would, since that would allow them to save even more money, and they would still have plenty of years ahead of them if they retired in their early 30s.