Childhood dream boosted by examples in the family

“It was a childhood dream that came true. I realized that such was my life’s path back in secondary school when I had to choose which subjects to study in the upcoming years and which to drop, which institution of higher education to attend… I’d say that was a decisive moment because I immediately made up my mind to apply to General Jonas Žemaitis Military Academy,” he said.

According to Kilcauskas, he rejected all the other possible future prospects and chose the military. Even though he did really well during the national exams and could have applied for a variety of study programs, he remained true to his dream, which is still strong to this day.

“My main inspiration was the difficult history of Lithuania: constant fighting with neighbours during the period of the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth, long-lasting occupations, and the hard-earned independence – these factors encouraged to contribute to the preservation of the status quo,” he continued.
Kariūnas Kristijonas Kilčauskas

The immediate family has also played an important role in Kilcauskas’ future plans.

“My father is a very important role model. He has been a civil servant for many years and always remains honest and moral both at work and at home. Another major role model is my grandfather, who has a lot of experience and is able to properly assess risks and share critical insight,” he said. According to Kilcauskas, if one wants to become a military officer, they should know themselves very well, too.” A new cadet hast to realize who he is, what his goals are, and what should be improved – this will help maintain emotional strength and open up comprehensive improvement possibilities. I am convinced that all the other necessary qualities can be developed during training,” he continued.

Mental health is more important than physical fitness

It is no secret to anyone that health and sports are integral parts of military service, but, according to the cadet, maintaining mental health is more important than physical fitness.

“A soldier’s everyday life is full of various psychological challenges, and not necessarily only during field training exercises but also when resting. I; personally, fight them by taking a broader look at a situation and looking for a solution while trying to remain cool-headed,” Kilcauskas opened up.

According to him, not just daily physical exercises help improve mental health, but other things as well.

“For a solder, it is very important to find time for activities he really enjoys. For example, I attend band rehearsals several times a week because it really helps to relax,” he stated.
Kariūnas Kristijonas Kilčauskas

Kilcauskas manages his hobbies and the strict schedule. According to him, he tries to complete all the academy tasks before noon so he can have some free time for other activities.
“I have lectures, various meetings, preparations for hosting events, music-related activities, the administration of the squad that I command, student representative council stuff, various additional tasks… It is difficult to maintain a fixed routine because the situation changes very quickly,” he shared.

Military service helps to know yourself better

It has been noticed that young people often find military service daunting. According to Kilcauskas, various factors give rise to fears: some are afraid of separating with their significant other, family, possibly losing friends, others think that military service will result in losing an important period of time to enrol in a university. Kilcauskas suggests looking from a different perspective.

“Supposed problems regarding keeping in touch usually are not problems at all because you certainly have time to communicate with your friends and family. All you need is willingness and their understanding and support. The second fair is related to studies at a college or university. Look at it this way: what are the chances that the student won’t quit due to disliking something about the curriculum or a change in priorities? The result will be the same – a lost period of time,” – he insisted.
Generolo Silvestro Žukausko poligonas

According to Kilcauskas, military service can be very useful and beneficial, so for those who are trying to avoid it, he has a suggestion: “Military service may help to know oneself better, the things you like. New experiences will not necessarily become the determining factor in terms of what to do next in your life. Perhaps those who are trying to avoid military service should research more what the situation in Ukraine is and what aggressors do to the locals in occupied territories. I think one will definitely want to learn how to prevent such events,” he said.

When the war in Ukraine began, the mood in the military remained calm: “On 24 February 2022, there could have been a plethora of moods – maybe some were afraid, others got hyped, and some did not react at all. I didn’t notice fear among other cadets – everyone was calm and calculated, but understood what the conflict could turn into. The mood has remained calm to this day,” he added.

Taught to help others since childhood

Military service is one of the expressions of patriotism, but according to Kilcauskas, patriotism should not be defined only in terms of great deeds. “Patriotism is a contribution to the state’s development, participation in community-based action by promoting community, unity, and understanding what the necessary parameters of a flourishing society are, military service, and simple, but nice gestures that create cosiness. Patriotism should not be understood only in terms of great deeds. It can manifest through professional conduct of everyday duties,” he said.

Kilcauskas, just like other military officers, demonstrates his patriotism by both serving in the military and participating in various social events as well as helping to organize them. According to him, he never refuses to help when asked. He has been taught so since childhood.

“I think that such small things like extending a helping hand are very important because they help people realize that every individual belongs to society. And this realization should make them act accordingly: provide assistance and give advice, instead of being a passive bystander. I have been taught not to ignore the surroundings since childhood and that is why I try to do something good every day, something that creates a cosier microclimate,” he explained.

Future goals

The twenty-one-year old is making his childhood dream come true at General Jonas Žemaitis Military Academy and has set major future goals.

“I am focused on becoming a military officer, performing my duties professionally, and also continuing studying post-graduation. I am motivated to achieve these goals by the realization that an educated soldier can contribute to the development of the military, the entire system of national defence, and certain doctrines,” he concluded.

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