Students from Wollongong Flexible Learning Centre have been put through "tough love" training under the guidance of former Australian Defence Force personnel.
The high school students have learnt skills including first aid, basic fitness, and have been placed in mock combat scenarios.
For participant Kylie Foster, the training has provided an incentive to come to school.
"Obviously it's enjoyable," she said.
"When you're doing it, it's heaps tiring but you feel happier and healthier and can't wait to do it again," Ms Foster said.
Wollongong Flexible Learning head of campus Kate Burrett said the teenagers had come a long way since beginning the training.
"Their confidence has been amazing, they're looking forward to it, it's improved their attendance at school ... they make sure they're always there on that day," she said.
"The guys have shown them lots of their video footage from their time in Afghanistan and the young people really love that.
"They ask them heaps of questions about teamwork and how to cope in difficult situations."
Trainer James Gatley recently retired from the defence force after serving in Afghanistan.
He said he and his fellow trainers were trying to give the students an idea of what being in a war zone could be like.
"We're trying to give them a sense of what it could be like in terms of having to engage in team cohesion, having to problem solve, and do this under physically arduous stresses," he said.
"What we're doing now is bringing some of that experience back into safe scenario-based training for the kids."
Mr Gatley said he was doing it as a way to give back to the community.
"We're doing it for a bit of goodwill," he said. "We had an initial trial session and the kids seemed to respond quite well."