[00:00:00] Scott DeLuzio: Thanks for tuning into the drive on podcast where we’re focused on giving hope and strength to the entire military community. Whether you’re a veteran active duty guard reserve or family member, this podcast will share inspirational stories and resources that are useful to you. I’m your host, Scott DeLuzio And now let’s get on with the show.
[00:00:21] Scott DeLuzio: Welcome back to the Drive On Podcast. Today, my guest is Jenna Carlton. Jenna is a Navy veteran who created the millennial veteran Facebook group and is the host of the vet chats, Instagram lives series that she does and that. The issues facing modern day veterans. And she’s also part of the veteran coalition that we have of podcasters and other content creators who are out there doing great things for veterans.
[00:00:51] Scott DeLuzio: And so I’m really happy to have Jenna on today to talk about everything that she’s doing and get a little bit more about [00:01:00] her out to the listeners of this podcast. Without further ado. Welcome to the show, Jen, I’m glad to have you on
[00:01:06] Jenna Carlton: hello, Scott. Great to be here. This is truly my pleasure. I’m great.
[00:01:10] Jenna Carlton: I’m grateful for this space and able to talk about the millennial veterans, the up and coming veterans.
[00:01:16] Scott DeLuzio: Yeah, absolutely. And when I first heard about you and your group that you have, and talking about the millennials veterans. It hadn’t really occurred to me that there is a huge subset of this population of veterans that are millennials and millennials being, I think what the 81 to 96 or so give or
[00:01:37] Jenna Carlton: take.
[00:01:39] Jenna Carlton: Yeah. Right. And
[00:01:41] Scott DeLuzio: so yeah, I guess it depends on who you ask where that, that falls, but. That’s a big group of this population of veterans, especially after the last 20 years with the wars that we were fighting and everything. I would imagine that quite a few of the people who were fighting over there were millennials.
[00:01:58] Scott DeLuzio: So it’s really interesting that [00:02:00] you’re honing in on this subset of the population to focus on. What’s going on with them and their needs. A lot of people think of veterans as the Korea world war two Vietnam era veterans, but there are a lot of younger veterans who are out there too, who also are facing their own struggles, their own unique situations.
[00:02:22] Scott DeLuzio: Right. Before we get too much into that. We’ll get into that later. But for the listeners who maybe don’t know you in your story, could you tell us a little bit about yourself?
[00:02:32] Jenna Carlton: Sure. I’d love to. So I am originally from Wisconsin, upper, Michigan, way up north. Very rural area. I graduated with about 36 kids to give you guys an idea of how small of a town.
[00:02:45] Jenna Carlton: And of course I wanted to get out of there, see the world. So, who promises to you to see the world? The Navy? So I joined the Navy to see the world and I really did exactly that. I was a a neurography mate. So I did meteorology and [00:03:00] oceanography. Which is kind of a rare job to have in the Navy. And I was on an aircraft carrier.
[00:03:06] Jenna Carlton: So I deployed over to the Arabian Gulf, the Eastern Mediterranean sea. I got to go to Dubai Croatia, Bahrain. And Greece. So it was a lot of fun and it was great to be a weather person because we got to see the outside of the ship. Otherwise like a carrier is so big. You feel like you’re just in a giant building.
[00:03:29] Jenna Carlton: It doesn’t even feel like you’re on a ship. So I was very grateful that I could actually see daylight or I could see the stars on the aircraft carrier, but yeah.
[00:03:38] Scott DeLuzio: I can only imagine being on an aircraft carrier in the middle of the ocean at night, looking up at the stars, there’s no light pollution coming in from cities that are around you.
[00:03:49] Scott DeLuzio: That there’s nothing around there. And you’re just looking straight up at the dark night sky and you probably have the most beautiful view of the sky, right?
[00:03:58] Jenna Carlton: You really do. You feel so [00:04:00] small in that moment and you realize. My problems are so small, like there is a whole universe out there.
[00:04:07] Scott DeLuzio: Yeah, for sure. And it’s not only are you in the middle of this enormous ocean, which is huge. And even the big ship that you’re on with, which is big, but it’s minuscule in size to the whole ocean that you’re in. But then you look up and you see everything around you, the stars and space and everything like that.
[00:04:26] Scott DeLuzio: And it’s like, ah, that is. That’s everything that we got going on down here is pretty insignificant. When you think about it, in the grand scheme of things,
[00:04:34] Jenna Carlton: right? Yeah. Yes. Yeah. It really helped to relieve that deployment anxiety of getting in the mundane routine of everyday, like working 12 on 12 off.
[00:04:45] Jenna Carlton: It was great escape to have.
[00:04:48] Scott DeLuzio: Yeah. Yeah. And so you’re doing. All of this stuff on the carrier. Was that in support of any of the operations I can during freedom or Iraqi freedom? Any, [00:05:00] anything like that? Or what were you doing over there? So
[00:05:03] Jenna Carlton: this was 2016, 2017 timeframe. So ours was operation inherent resolve, and we were mostly doing strikes in Syria against ISIS ISL.
[00:05:15] Jenna Carlton: That was our main mission was to. Yeah, dropped bombs there. Okay.
[00:05:22] Scott DeLuzio: So that’s an important thing too, because being on a carrier, having the weather and all of that information for the pilots, it has to be a pretty significant information because they can’t fly under certain conditions and they have to know what’s coming and everything.
[00:05:37] Scott DeLuzio: So I have to imagine that the job that you had was a pretty important job to the overall picture of the whole mission, right.
[00:05:45] Jenna Carlton: Yes, definitely. We not only predict like the weather for the pilots, that’s important, but we’re also, recording atmospheric data to make sure the radars are working well. and other stuff like that.
[00:05:58] Scott DeLuzio: And that’s important too, especially [00:06:00] for a big ship in the middle of the ocean or the different places that you’re traveling through without functioning radar.
[00:06:06] Scott DeLuzio: You’re your. Pretty in pretty rough shape. So that’s all important information to have there. What about after leaving the Navy? What was the transition like for you as you decided to get out? Was it you just did one enlistment, you didn’t like re-enlist or how was that as you getting out of the Navy?
[00:06:26] Jenna Carlton: I was really torn. I did four years and I wanted to re-enlist. I really. I would just, wasn’t really too crazy about my jobs doing weather. I know. I just made it sound cool, but it’s a lot of it’s a lot of studying. So if I would have re-enlisted, I would have had to go back to a weather school, which is pretty much almost equivalent to getting your bachelor’s degree in meteorology.
[00:06:48] Jenna Carlton: So it’s very intense and I just didn’t want, I didn’t know if I wanted to devote that much time to something. Really sure. I wanted to pursue outside of the Navy. So I eventually I made E-5 and [00:07:00] then I said, all right, I’m going to get out. Which I don’t think they were too happy about me waiting until after I got E-5 , but yeah, I wanted to try something else.
[00:07:12] Scott DeLuzio: Yeah. So what was the transition like? What did you end up getting into as you got out of the Navy?
[00:07:19] Jenna Carlton: So I went to school. I wasn’t sure what I wanted to study. I think I started off, I wanted to be a teacher actually. But I started to, get more into politics also with me being on the aircraft carrier there.
[00:07:33] Jenna Carlton: I wanted to kind of make sense of why I was there, what we were doing, but What the big picture was of like world politics. So I started studying classes like that and I’m pretty close to DC. So I wanted to do an internship on Capitol hill. And that’s kinda how I got into veteran politics, because I was like, well, what kind of policy?
[00:07:56] Jenna Carlton: Where, who, where am I going to intern at? And then my professor’s like, well, you’re a [00:08:00] veteran. Why don’t you just go with that? And so that’s when I did my intern. At the house committee of veteran affairs and really guy invested in veteran politics.
[00:08:11] Scott DeLuzio: Well, that, that’s really interesting how you got involved in that.
[00:08:14] Scott DeLuzio: And what did you learn through that internship in terms of how veterans are being treated through Congress and the whole legislative process and everything like that? What kind of insights did you get from.
[00:08:28] Jenna Carlton: So every hearing I wanted to go to, I wanted to see the testimony, all the witnesses had everything.
[00:08:35] Jenna Carlton: And I learned so much about just the different parts of the VA and all that it offers. And then also. There’s a lot of disheartening things that happen, there was just so much good intentions and, veterans issues. It’s not a democratic, it’s not a Republican thing. It’s pretty bipartisan, both sides want to help veterans as much as they can.
[00:08:57] Jenna Carlton: So it was like, there was all these people I wanted to, and then [00:09:00] Congress had passed these bills. They just would miss certain points. For example, so last summer they made a bill to counteract all of the gay men and women who were kicked out of, because of don’t ask, don’t tell. So they made a bill that would retroactive all their not retroactive, but give them all their benefits back.
[00:09:21] Jenna Carlton: But the problem was is that a lot of. Gay men and women who served, they weren’t kicked out because they were gay. They went AWOL because they were, frustrated with how they, where they went. They had substance abuse problems. So they were kicked out for other reasons. And that wasn’t on their DD-214.
[00:09:39] Jenna Carlton: So just stuff like that is how people, some veterans slips through the cracks and. That was kind of disheartening for me to see. Well,
[00:09:46] Scott DeLuzio: yeah. And each individual veteran has their own unique issues. Right? So someone like who you’re talking about, if they go AWOL, okay, that’s an issue, but why didn’t they go, Hey, well, you know, it was, they had a reason, everyone has a reason for doing all the things that they do.
[00:09:59] Scott DeLuzio: It’s not [00:10:00] like just a spur of the moment, like, ah, what the heck, let’s see how this goes for me. You know? They have. But let you know, if you can’t drill down to figure out what the actual reason is and what the problem is, then you’re probably going to be missing some people along the way with whatever it is that you’re trying to do.
[00:10:15] Scott DeLuzio: Whether it’s something like what you’re talking about or other things, mental health issues, substance abuse issues, you’re going to end up missing. Part of the population, if you’re just looking at the one, one little hot topic issue, right?
[00:10:28] Jenna Carlton: Yeah, absolutely. And that’s just reality, you know, it is.
[00:10:31] Jenna Carlton: And like I said, there’s so many good intentions, but it’s just, it was hard to see, I guess, just to be that close up to it. But I mean, it was awesome because I did, I learned a lot and I learned that. A lot of benefits that we have and how to help people that are in need.
[00:10:49] Scott DeLuzio: Well, and that’s another thing too, that is useful because there’s a lot of veterans that I’ve talked to who don’t even know.
[00:10:56] Scott DeLuzio: First off how to apply for benefits how to get the benefits, [00:11:00] but they don’t even know what benefits that they have available to them. When you get out of the military, you have, they tell you all these things, but it’s like drinking water from a fire hose. Like you’re not gonna catch it all.
[00:11:11] Scott DeLuzio: Like it’s just too much information. Right. So having that background and that information is certainly useful to have then, and helping out other veterans trying to navigate that whole process is definitely a blessing to have someone like you, who lived through a lot of that process from the legislative side, right?
[00:11:31] Jenna Carlton: Yeah. Yeah.
[00:11:36] Jenna Carlton: Yeah, I think another part of that problem with millennial veterans at least is just, they’re not identifying with that word veteran as as easily. It takes a while. I was talking about that with KP, how it takes some time to say I’m a veteran. And when you’re not saying you’re a veteran, you know, you’re kind of blocking yourself off from access to.
[00:11:58] Jenna Carlton: Benefits that you have and [00:12:00] isolating a way from that community. Maybe you don’t want to be a part of it just it’s something that you don’t think it looks like you or something else. So I think that’s another issue that I’m trying to tackle through this
[00:12:13] Scott DeLuzio: group. Yeah. And so you mentioned the group and I briefly mentioned it earlier in the introduction, but the Facebook group, the millennials veteran Was your motivation for creating that group and getting this group.
[00:12:26] Scott DeLuzio: Veterans a subset of the population together to talk to about the issues that they’re having. What was the motivation behind all of that?
[00:12:35] Jenna Carlton: When I got out another part of, when I got out was I was really isolated, like a lot of veterans are kind of scattered all over the country were not by family.
[00:12:44] Jenna Carlton: And then when you get out, you might go to college somewhere else. Your family might bring you somewhere else. So you’re away from your social support system. And also I was. Pregnant. So I was trying to figure out my identity as a mom, my identity as a veteran, who am I without the [00:13:00] Navy? And it was a rough patch.
[00:13:03] Jenna Carlton: It was, I think all veterans go through that kind of Rocky transition period, trying to figure out what’s next. And I just, I wanted to reach out to people that were going through this, going through that time. And. Let them know it’s normal. Here’s what you can do. Here’s your options. You have so many benefits and options your way.
[00:13:22] Jenna Carlton: So let’s let’s connect the two together.
[00:13:26] Scott DeLuzio: Yeah. And you’re right. There is that transition period where. You don’t really know what to identify as you, you identified as a service member for so long. A lot of times that’s the only job that people have had since high school. Right. But a lot of people join 18 when they first get out of high school and they might serve four years, six years, eight years, 10, 20 years.
[00:13:54] Scott DeLuzio: And that’s the only identity that they’ve had was. Service member, whether [00:14:00] it’s a building or a sailor or a soldier or whatever, the lions that they served in, that’s all they have. And so then they come out and it’s like, okay, what does it mean to even be a veteran and. When I mentioned earlier, you think about the Vietnam, the Korea, the world war II era veterans, you think about these old guys your grandparents or whatever that, that are sitting around talking about the war or whatever.
[00:14:24] Scott DeLuzio: And it’s like, well, I’m not that guy, I’m not that old. I’m not as young as I used to be, but I’m not that old either. Right. So, and I fall into that category too. I’m on the old fart end of the millennial category. I’m I was born in 82. So I think I still meet that category, but it’s like, where do I fit in?
[00:14:41] Scott DeLuzio: Do I even consider myself a veteran? I mean, I do, but at first it was hard to wrap my head around that.
[00:14:47] Jenna Carlton: Yeah. Yeah, definitely. It just takes some time and it’s something that you should eventually. You eventually end up either embracing it or you kind of [00:15:00] just forget about it and then you’re not tapping into that resource, this whole community that’s so welcoming and so great.
[00:15:08] Scott DeLuzio: Yeah, absolutely. And the other part of this millennial category is there’s this stereotype that millennials are lazy or unproductive, or just not productive members of society. Right. But we’ve been asked to do quite a bit in our younger years, we PR I would imagine, I don’t know the numbers really, but I would imagine that millennials probably made up the bulk of the troops in the post-9/11 era, Iraq, Afghanistan, all of the global war on terror era.
[00:15:38] Scott DeLuzio: I would imagine that it’s probably. A big bulk of the people who served were in the millennial category. Not to say that there weren’t older people and people who don’t fit in that category, but we did quite a bit in our younger years, right.
[00:15:55] Jenna Carlton: Yeah. You’re exactly right. Yeah. You [00:16:00] guys where the, like the millennials, they were the 18 to probably like 25-year-olds during that timeframe.
[00:16:06] Jenna Carlton: So they were the ones doing the grunt work, the hard work,
[00:16:10] Scott DeLuzio: right. Exactly. And I think it’s sort of unfair to categorize all millennials as being this lazy unproductive group because. We were out there doing quite a bit and it’s not really, I don’t think fair to categorize everyone like that.
[00:16:25] Scott DeLuzio: Sure. In any group, you’re going to have some outliers, right. The unproductive types. And I think you’ll get that even in the older generations as well. I know some people, I can probably name them. I won’t do it, but I can name some people who definitely fit in that category who are definitely older than we are.
[00:16:41] Scott DeLuzio: But I don’t know. Is there a way to help change that stereotype to change the attitude people have towards this group of people? Or do we just say screw it and who cares what they think.
[00:16:53] Jenna Carlton: Yeah. Yeah. You could do the latter of saying screw it. You know, I wish everyone could do that, but it [00:17:00] is such a negative stereotype because it’s also preventing veterans from getting like, applying for disability that they need, because they’re like, oh, I don’t deserve it.
[00:17:10] Jenna Carlton: You know, I was, I saw people who had it worse. It kind of creates a mindset or like, I don’t want to make a VA appointment because I’m taking up someone else’s spot. But I think we just have to take groups like the millennial veterans and do good things with it. We’re very in the early stages of the group, like, we’re really just a support group on Facebook.
[00:17:32] Jenna Carlton: That’s all we are. We don’t have anything in person. We’re not a nonprofit. Maybe in a few years, they’ll come back on your podcast and we’ll actually have something. Yeah, we just gotta take it and make it our own and prove that.
[00:17:46] Scott DeLuzio: Yeah, for sure. And doing stuff like this even just having this group of people who can come together not only are you, is everyone like-minded in terms of being a veteran, but also in terms of their age, we grew up.[00:18:00]
[00:18:00] Scott DeLuzio: With the same, a lot of the same experiences in society. Things that occurred during our youth are all very similar, so we can relate with that as well. So I think that kind of narrowing down that subset of the population of overall the veterans narrowing it down to a smaller group, like the millennial category with.
[00:18:22] Scott DeLuzio: Help to get people moving in the right direction towards maybe accepting the fact that, okay, I am a veteran and I do have benefits that are available to me and I’ve earned them. I do deserve some of these things that are out there. And one of the things that you mentioned is very true, how a lot of times, veterans.
[00:18:43] Scott DeLuzio: Not take the VA appointment or not apply for benefits because they don’t want to take it away from someone else who has it worse off, but there are the way the, and you probably could talk to this better than I can, but the way that the veteran benefits are structured, [00:19:00] you’re not taking money away from someone just because you applied for benefits, right.
[00:19:06] Jenna Carlton: Yeah. Yeah. You’re not, that is mandatory spending in our budget. So no matter what, that’s always going to meet whatever the demand is.
[00:19:15] Scott DeLuzio: Right. So if you’re out there and you have this disability, it could be, your back is screwed up your hearing, you got PTSD, whatever it is like you can go and get the benefits.
[00:19:26] Scott DeLuzio: You’ve you earned through your service and through everything, and you’re not taking it away from the guy who got blown up in IED and lost a leg or something like that. You’re not taking anything away from that person. You’re just, you’re helping yourself, but it doesn’t mean that there’s this finite pool of money that only so much can come out of.
[00:19:50] Jenna Carlton: Yeah, absolutely. And honestly, that was me. I waited a few years because to even apply for anything, because I was like, no, I’m fine. I don’t want to take away from [00:20:00] anyone. And then when I had more knowledge, I was like, oh, I mean, you know, it’s out there. Know if I need help, I’m going to get it.
[00:20:09] Scott DeLuzio: Yeah. That was the same with me as well.
[00:20:10] Scott DeLuzio: I waited way too long for for that. And. Had I known way back when that it wasn’t hurting anybody else, it wasn’t taking anything away from other people. I probably would’ve applied for it earlier on, but it just didn’t occur to me that’s how it worked. It just seemed like, okay, they probably have a budget of X amount of dollars and.
[00:20:32] Scott DeLuzio: That’s spent then they can’t spend any more but that’s not the case. So, I am harping on this because I know there’s people out there who probably are listening to this podcast and have that same mindset and same attitude. And I really want to drive home the point that is not the case. You can get the benefits without taking away from somebody else or preventing.
[00:20:54] Scott DeLuzio: The amputee or the person with cancer from burn pits or whatever. You’re not [00:21:00] taking away anything from those people necessarily. So definitely wanted to drive that home. You also host the vet chats on Instagram. You do the Instagram lives with that. Tell us a little bit about that.
[00:21:11] Scott DeLuzio: Where did that come from and what do you guys talk about with the guests that you have.
[00:21:17] Jenna Carlton: When I started the group, I noticed how much millennial veterans were doing just veterans in general, how much they were doing, giving back what they were doing after. Some people were directing films.
[00:21:28] Jenna Carlton: Some people are writing books, there’s so many amazing things. And I just wanted to. Those veterans help them share their stories, keep that positivity going in the veteran community and really change that narrative of what it means to be millennials.
[00:21:46] Scott DeLuzio: And so the people that you have on when is the because their live so that you have a, do you have a certain set time that you do these lives every week or every day? What’s the time period for that?
[00:21:59] Jenna Carlton: So there [00:22:00] Sundays at 9:00 PM, I have three young children. So 9:00 PM is great because they’re all sleeping.
[00:22:07] Scott DeLuzio: Yeah. Yeah, it’s perfect. When you can work things like this around the kids, sleep schedules. I have three children as well. They’re a little bit older, I think probably than yours, but they It’s definitely a lot easier when they’re in bed and you don’t have to worry about them coming in and interrupting the conversation.
[00:22:25] Scott DeLuzio: Although I do remember I think it was like early on in the COVID days, or maybe even earlier than that, there was a guy who was on the news doing a remote interview and is, it was a little kid walked in and he saw, he was like on the TV interview and this little kid comes running in and he’s trying to keep his composure, but you could see the look in his eyes like.
[00:22:42] Scott DeLuzio: Just so dead right now. Like, so I get it. You don’t want that happening, but fortunately, a lot of us are in the same position. We have kids and I think we all get it. So definitely not a huge deal if that did happen, it’d probably actually be kind of cute and funny. [00:23:00] So,
[00:23:01] Jenna Carlton: so far it has been, it’s been a year or so, but, and also Sundays are a great time.
[00:23:07] Jenna Carlton: Cause you know, everyone’s got to go back to work on Monday, nobody’s out and about A nice timeframe. So I’ll probably stick with it for awhile.
[00:23:14] Scott DeLuzio: Yeah, no, and that, that is a good timeframe too, because you’re kinda unwinding from the weekend getting ready for work, but it’s good to hear other people’s stories and other messages, maybe inspiration and things like that at that time to get.
[00:23:28] Scott DeLuzio: Your week started off, right. So you’re starting off on the right foot. So that’s good. But it is also interesting too, because you talked to so many different people. And one of the things I’ve always said is that, that everyone has their story especially veterans whether you deployed, whether you served for 20 years or five years or whatever the time period is that you served, whatever it is that you did, y’all have.
[00:23:51] Scott DeLuzio: A story to tell. And there’s something that someone can learn from your experiences your time in the service. And it’s great. I think [00:24:00] that you have this platform that people are able to come on and share their stories and share what it is that they’re doing now to help out the veteran community, because raising awareness for all of these things that people are doing to me, is super important because.
[00:24:16] Scott DeLuzio: People don’t know about them, that they even exist, then how are they going to go and utilize those services? Right. So it’s stuff like what you’re doing, I think is super important. So I would highly encourage any of the listeners out there who would be interested to go in and check out the millennial veteran Facebook group get involved with that, and also check out.
[00:24:38] Scott DeLuzio: Instagram lives. But could you tell people where they can go to get involved? I just told people to get involved, but I didn’t even realize that I didn’t tell them how to get involved.
[00:24:47] Jenna Carlton: No, you pretty much did. Our Facebook group is the millennial veterans and then my Instagram, it’s also my personal Instagram.
[00:24:54] Jenna Carlton: So you’ll see a little of me and my family, but I like to do slides and information on, on [00:25:00] veterans issues. And that is at the millennial veteran, honestly.
[00:25:04] Scott DeLuzio: Okay. Excellent. So I will have links to both the Facebook group and the Instagram page in the show notes for this episode. So anyone who is looking to check that out definitely look at the show notes.
[00:25:16] Scott DeLuzio: You can click right through and get involved, follow the Instagram page, get involved in the group right from there. So, Jenna, it has been an absolute pleasure speaking with you today. Really want to thank you for taking the time to come on the show and share all the things that you’re up to.
[00:25:31] Scott DeLuzio: And maybe we’ll have you back on in the future to share how the group has grown and what you guys are up to in the group. So thank you again.
[00:25:40] Jenna Carlton: Awesome. And thank you, Scott. What, you’re so great at what you do. So just keep driving on.
[00:25:51] Scott DeLuzio: Thanks for listening to the drive on Podcast If you want to check out more episodes or learn more about the show, you can visit our website. [00:26:00] driveonpodcast.com We’re also on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and YouTube at drive on podcast