DoD wants general public to get to know those who serve

Historically, being born into a military family made it pretty likely that someone in your family and the families of each generation behind you would join the military to serve their country. Military families contribute the lion’s share of new military recruits. But that’s changing, and the ramifications are of concern to military leaders.

Two decades ago, 40 percent of young adults had a parent who had served. Today, that number has shrunk to 15 percent.

According to comments made by Amber Smith, deputy assistant to the secretary of defense for outreach, most civilians have negative perceptions of military service without those insights. Military service is viewed as isolating and disruptive to families, and as having a negative impact on service members’ physical and psychological well-being and ability to transition effectively back into society.

A growing military-civilian divide may have dire consequences for the viability and sustainability of our total force, said Smith. As of 2017, the percentage of service members recommending military life to their children dropped by half from two decades ago, according to research by Booz Allen Hamilton and Blue Star Families.

With fewer families steeped in the knowledge and understandings of what serving really looks and feels like, the Defense Department (DoD) is taking steps to counter those perceptions.

Up Close and Personal

In an effort to turn around these numbers and begin connecting civilians with insights into military service, DoD created “This is Your Military,” an initiative highlighting our diverse and multifaceted military force. The initiative launched February 1 with a new website, Know Your Military.

Launch-Feb-PosterFebruary featured a video portraying a day in the life of Chalee Teaser, an aspiring comedian who currently serves in the Navy. It’s an unscripted, unstaged reveal of a young adult finding his way, except he’s doing it while also serving his country. If Teaser is representative, DoD is not so much selling recruitment messages through this engagement, but letting people get to know their military through the faces and stories of those serving. And in doing so, hopes to reverse the expanding military-civilian divide encouraged by myths and stereotypes rampant in popular culture.

Through active social media platforms and monthly videos the initiative aims to show young adults the realities and opportunities of military service. If that encourages them to serve, all the better for the military.

Find out more information at knowyourmilitary.osd.mil or on Twitter using #KnowYourMil.