Episode 307 Matthew Weiss Generation Z and Military Service Transcript

This transcript is from episode 307 with guest Matthew Weiss.

Scott DeLuzio: [00:00:00] 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 a 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.

Hey everybody. Welcome back to drive on. I’m your host, Scott DeLuzio. And today my guest is Matthew Weiss. And Matthew is a second Lieutenant in the Marine Corps and author of the book, We Don’t Want You, Uncle Sam. And his book focuses on the struggles that military recruiters are having, getting recruits from generation Z in the military.

And I wanted to have Matthew on the show today to discuss this topic because as. An older guy with Gen Z kids myself, uh, I’m sure we might have some different points of view. Um, hopefully we can have a constructive dialogue to help find some solutions for this [00:01:00] issue. I’m sure some of them are things that have been discussed in his book, but I’m sure we’ll get into some of that.

So welcome to the show, Matthew. I’m glad to have you here. Thank you so

Matthew Weiss: much for inviting me. I’m excited to be here and

Scott DeLuzio: talk. Yeah, absolutely. So for the listeners who maybe aren’t familiar with you and your background, can you tell us a little bit about yourself and who you are?

Matthew Weiss: Absolutely. So I’d like to say I’m from the greatest state in America.

That’s New Jersey. Uh, very, very proud of it. Um, but in short. I’m a young junior military officer. I’m intelligence officer in the Marine Corps. Prior to this, I studied at business school and worked in a pretty cutting edge defense company. Um, both of those places, I saw interesting recruiting tactics that, uh, for very highly desirable institutions we’re employing.

And I think that. Can translate and that made me a little bit, uh, insightful into this recruiting problem. Um, just another quick background. Like, like [00:02:00] so many of your viewers, I, uh, watched news. I watched television and one of the things I saw on television one day, actually many days were these segments about military recruiting.

And military recruiting is in trouble and we’re having issues. And I looked at it on the television and every single person talking on TV was either some senior ranking Admiral general 40 years out from their recruiting cycle or some amazing, again, all heroes of mine, some amazing millennial, uh, war vet from Iraq and Afghanistan.

Um, and every time they would talk though, I realized these, these people are, you know, 20, 15 years out from the time they were recruited. Uh, why are they the ones talking about the recruiting crisis? I felt that they were a little, I don’t want to say out of touch, but removed from the actual issue. So got really fired up one day, inspired by sort of a colonel that was giving me a challenge and was like, I’m going to write a book about this, uh, try to make a difference and actually impact this issue.

Scott DeLuzio: Yeah. And you’re absolutely right with [00:03:00] some of these people who’ve been in the military, like you said, 30, 40 years or so, they’re, they’re just. A really long time period that they’ve been in. They’re far removed from that recruiting, uh, period of time. Um, the motivations that got them into the military in the first place are probably different from the motivations that are getting people into the military today.

And so doing the same old, same old. Maybe isn’t the right way to go. Um, you know, maybe there’s some things that can be carried over, right? We’re not going to throw in everything, um, just because times are changing, but, um, but some of the stuff is maybe got to be looked at in a different. Point of view. So, um, you taking this initiative, I think to at least bring up the issue and say, Hey, this is a problem we need to address this.

We have, um, you know, some solutions that, that can be, um, that can be thought up of here, you know, [00:04:00] I think this is a good, positive, constructive way to go. And I, I want, wanted to bring you on the show because, um, you know, a lot of the listeners, they’re veterans, they’ve been out. For a number of years and, um, many like myself are, you know, having kids who are getting to that point where they might be starting to think about a military career.

And what does that look like? And what, what would prevent them from joining the military? Uh, that they’re maybe their parents served in. Um, you know, my, my son’s probably about four years or so off from, uh, From being of military age. And so, you know, that’s, that’s something that’s in, in the near future.

So, you know, we, we have to start having this conversation, but, um, before we get too much more into it, we’re going to cut to a quick commercial break, but when we get back, we’re going to, um, we’re going to get into this issue and, and talk a little bit more about it. So stay tuned, everybody. Welcome back.

Uh, I want to start off this part of the conversation here with the elephant in the room here, uh, your book. That we talked about in the intro, it [00:05:00] focuses on the issues that military recruiters are facing, uh, with getting Gen Z recruits into the military. And yet you’re in that generation yourself. So I want to talk a little bit about what made you want to join the military.

Maybe with hopes to kind of get a better understanding of what motivates Gen Z and what. Are those incentives that are out there that made you want to join the military?

Matthew Weiss: Absolutely. So I like to say for myself, I had internal and external motivations. And I think from an internal perspective, uh, these track with the many things said over the past decades, right?

So wanted a sense of responsibility, wanted to serve my country, felt patriotic, felt like I owed a debt that, that sort of is very similar, you know, there’s internal. Very American feelings that many generations of veterans have felt. I think what, [00:06:00] what is a little bit different that is interesting, um, are some of my, my personal external motivations, right?

Where, um, I want to learn how to lead. I want to go to an organization where I can be given a leadership. Billet and gain those skills at a very young and early age. So I really looked at it as an investment in myself and my career. And I think Gen Z, uh, tends to, to look at it, um, to look at many decisions in their lives, uh, as, as that as well, to sort of look at that second half, uh, external motivations of, of how am I going to invest my time, my skillset, my energy, what am I going to get out of it?

And I think that starts to track in a little bit of a different, uh, way. Gen Z looks at the military compared to

Scott DeLuzio: other generations. And I think when you ask anybody, you know, this broad question, what’s your motivation for joining the military? You’re going to get different answers from just about everybody that you [00:07:00] ask.

Now, some of those answers are going to have common themes. Like you talked about the patriotism, the sense of duty, service to your country, those types of things. A lot of people are going to. Have that in there. Some people want the money for college, that that’s their motivation. Um, but, but then there’s also this other aspect that you’re talking about this, um, this aspect that you want the leadership experience, which I think is, um, incredible.

And you’re not going to get that anywhere else. Uh, at least not at. A young age, um, you know, joining, um, the military at the age that you joined, uh, versus, you know, maybe working your first job out of college. You’re not getting the leadership skills where you’re leading 30, 40 some odd people, um, in a junior officer role.

You’re not going to get that kind of experience in a civilian career. You’re going to be just the low man on the totem pole and you’re, you’re not going to be, uh, you know, in that leadership position quite yet, just fresh out [00:08:00] of college. Um, and so that’s a, that’s an interesting point because, um, yeah, the Gen Z they’re, they’re looking for.

Those types of opportunities. I’m not saying that other generations didn’t look for those types of opportunities. But, um, but that’s an important thing to keep in mind too. I think is, uh, some of these, um, uh, common themes amongst your generation. I think that that might be one of them. I’m sure there’s others, uh, that are out there as well.

Um, you know, what are some of the other factors that That may be, um, you found through your conversations with other people that have made it challenging for the military to appeal to Gen Z.

Matthew Weiss: Absolutely. So I’ll start off with the DOD, uh, prescribed analysis, basically. Right. So the DOD is obviously severely impacted by this issue.

They look at it as one of their top ranking issues. Secretary of the army thinks it’s really the number one issue facing [00:09:00] Uh, future force readiness right now. So they poured a lot of money into doing research and surveys and understanding what’s going on. So from a, from a super high level perspective, they classify, uh, three main categories of why things are going wrong with, with, uh, Gen Z recruitment.

Um, it’s KTI and that goes with knowledge, trust, and identity. So let’s start with knowledge. So frankly, Gen Z doesn’t know about the various career opportunities. The experiences that you can have, uh, and really what military life is, right? Increasingly the military for the 50 years that we’ve had, the all volunteer force has been coming from a smaller and smaller proportion of the population.

Uh, I said this, you know, many people, the number one dominant indicator of joining the military is having some sort of family member in the actual armed services. So… As less and less families have joined, the draft is way long gone. Uh, there’s only been [00:10:00] sort of a recycling of the same families serving.

It’s becoming almost a family business. Uh, and that’s an issue because it permeates military thought and military service permeates an increasingly smaller group. So many people throughout Gen Z are just not aware. Of what the military has to offer. It’s like, you’re looking at career options post high school and it doesn’t even come to mind.

And if it does, they have no idea what, you know, it would be like, they don’t understand. Um, they haven’t been taught or they haven’t seen that knowledge themselves. The, the trust is a huge factor. That’s. Good point. Number two, trust in a lot of American institutions are on the decline. You look at various Reagan defense, foreign polls, Gallup polls, all of our institutions are suffering from some public trust issues and the military has historically had the highest trust score and still does comparatively or relatively to other institutions.

But it. Itself is [00:11:00] still struggling, uh, severely and that trust is an issue, right? So people are not trusting. They look at how some veterans retreated post Iraq and Afghanistan. They look at, uh, some issues that have happened and they don’t necessarily look. Uh, positively on joining this institution. I mean, there’s a, there’s a large swath of Gen Z that doesn’t trust it.

Uh, and another interesting point is some veterans, a new Wall Street Journal article came out, uh, are not telling their kids to join, uh, the. Military. That’s a huge issue, right? That, that is a serious, serious issue when they’re, they’re not encouraging their own children to join. They themselves don’t have the trust.

How are some random Gen Z kid going to have the same trust or a young person to have the same trust? And the last one is identity. Uh, and identity is sort of, do you see yourself in uniform? Um, you know, society and the military keep splitting to a point of, you know, can you see a life and a career in uniform [00:12:00] when you could be doing XYZ job or you’re doing XYZ in high school?

Can you actually envision yourself, your own identity in uniform? That is a, uh. Increasingly a departure

Scott DeLuzio: from yeah, and I think that goes to the first point that you’re talking about how so many people have a lack of knowledge, which that’s another issue that I want to touch on to. But, um, a lack of knowledge because they don’t have people who are in their own immediate family who Um, so when they lack that, um, they, they don’t see, you know, mom or dad walking through the door after work in their uniform or even, uh, you know, their uncle or their cousin or somebody in their family, um, that they see wearing their, their dress blues or, you know, whatever.

And looking at them and like, Holy crap. I want to be that guy. When I, when I grow up, you know, that type of thing that that mindset isn’t there. If. Those people are not [00:13:00] in their immediate, uh, in their immediate family, their extended family. If they’re not part of that, that family unit, uh, they may not see that.

And so, you know, how do you identify with something that, um, you know, you’ve, you’ve only really seen maybe in the movies or on television. Um, it’s, it’s not real to you. It’s not, it’s not, uh, there’s no concrete examples that, that you can look at. But, you know, it’s interesting that you mentioned the knowledge and.

Uh, the knowledge aspect, because to me, I would think like this generation should have access to all the knowledge that on their, their smartphones, that the internet has access to basically the wealth of human knowledge at your fingertips. Um, and so that shouldn’t be an issue. Uh, however, uh, yes, there’s information about just about everything on the internet.

If you don’t go and take the initiative to go look that information up yourself, that information doesn’t just. magically find its way into your brain. [00:14:00] You have to go out and know what you’re looking for and actually look that stuff up. Um, and if it’s not even on your radar, you’re not going to. And so, yeah, there, there probably is a lack of knowledge on, uh, what career opportunities are there or what benefits there are to even being in the military.

So I don’t, I don’t think it’s necessarily a matter of. Offering more benefits. It may just be offering more knowledge of what benefits there are to military service, right?

Matthew Weiss: Absolutely. Absolutely. So it’s that discovery aspect. It’s that are people who pens to go out and seek more information, right? If you talk to a recruiter at a recruiting fair in high school, uh, in the high school hallway, a recruiter comes in and talks to your class.

It’s what are we doing? to encourage people to seek that knowledge and actually be the word they use for Pence. That’s in all the studies, uh, to, to want to go and, and, and look at that, right. And actually take that [00:15:00] next step. And that’s, that’s a major roadblock, right? Cause yeah, okay. Military service or, Oh, the army sounds interesting, but you need people taking that second step to actually be motivated to say, I want to explore a career in that.

I want to have that first recruiter conversation. I want to have, you know, a further study of this. Uh, so you’re absolutely right. It’s out there, but it’s, there’s, there’s a gap in it actually being connected to, um, a majority of the generation Z

Scott DeLuzio: population. Yeah, exactly. And I, I think, um, you know, just.

Getting that on people’s radar, I think is, is a big challenge, but I think that’s something like if we can, if we can tackle that challenge and we can figure out a way to get this on people’s radar, um, that might be a good starting point, at least to start the conversation of, Hey, is the military right for me?

Is this some place that I want to go when I get out of high school or college? Um, You know, I know when I was in high school, I don’t know what it’s like now, [00:16:00] um, but when I was in high school, there were recruiters coming into high schools all the time and they were getting people’s names, getting people’s information.

And I, I remember the phone ringing off the hook when I was a senior in high school, um, you know, Navy, Marine Corps, Army, Air Force, they were all, uh, just calling me constantly, just trying to see if they can recruit me. Um, you know, at the time I wasn’t. Interested in joining the military, but, um, it was definitely on my radar.

It was definitely an option because they were there, they were in my face. They told me all the benefits. They told me all the information and going back to that knowledge piece. You know, if you don’t know what some of these benefits and the opportunities are, then you’re not gonna, you’re not going to jump into it.

So, um, you know, definitely good points there. Um, I, I want to, um. Take a second here to cut to a quick commercial break, but when we get back, we’ll, we’ll get more into this conversation. So stay tuned. So [00:17:00] when I joined back in 2005, there was a recruiting issue back then too. Um, actually one of the reasons why I joined was because after nine 11, there’s so many people want to join to get payback or whatever their motivations were, uh, you 11.

Um, And I was one of those people, I was in college at the time when 9 11 happened and, um, I held off getting out of school and joining because I wanted to finish my degree. Um, but when I heard about the recruiting issues that they were having in 2005, I was, I was pissed off. Um, I thought to myself, like, where are all these people who wanted to get that payback after 9 11?

And then I realized that… I was one of those people, but I never did anything about it up until that point. So I graduated like May of 2004, and this was late 2005. So, you know, a year and a half or so later, uh, I still hadn’t done anything about it. Um, and so then I was like, well. I’m young enough. I’m fit [00:18:00] enough.

I’m perfectly capable. So why not me? And I was the same type of person that you were describing earlier, the person with the, um, you know, the, the pride for the country wanted to go serve the country, that higher calling, that type of thing. Um, and so the next week I was in the recruiter’s office and signed the papers, did all that, that stuff.

And, um, you know, we don’t have a 9 11 type crisis on our hands right now. And thank God we don’t. Uh, that’s the worst thing possible. I would never wish that on anybody. But, um, but also doesn’t do much for that sense of patriotic duty or that higher calling sense of purpose that, uh, so many people felt 20 plus years ago.

So does Gen Z lack that sort of patriotism or is it, um, is it something else?

Matthew Weiss: Scott? Yeah, it’s a great question. Um, and I think the best way to answer it is to, to delve into, you know, Who is Gen Z? And let’s analyze them a little bit, because that’s sort of the building block that I think the DOD has to [00:19:00] go through and that I went through, um, in this discovery.

So, uh, in short, do we lack a patriotism? I would say, you know, categorically, no, we’re not any less patriotic. Uh, by that definition, the word than any other generation. But I do think, uh, a better word to use potentially for the way we think, uh, as we delve into, you know, who we are as a, as a generation is, is a sort of pragmatism.

So you bring up 9 11, which is, you know, obviously a huge focal point in history, a huge. The interesting time, um, my generation is the first is the newest. Now that doesn’t remember that, right? We were either not born or so young that we actually don’t have any memories, or I do not remember that faithful day in the country, right?

So what was a huge turning point for our country? Uh, politically and militarily, uh, we, we actually didn’t grow up with instead. Let’s look at what Gen Z did grow up with, right? Our earlier memories for some of the older ones of us. And by the way, Gen Z by Pew research is defined [00:20:00] really at that is, is 1998 to about 2012, uh, birth years, basically.

And again, you know, someone in 97 is not much different than someone in 98. Uh, but once you start getting deeper in like five or six years, you start to see a big difference. I like to say my, my brother is six years younger. He’s, he’s very different from a millennial. That’s two years older than me. So if we look at our events in our generation, right, we’ll say the great financial crisis was a key sort of elementary school event that was a huge sort of fiscal, uh, crisis or recession that impacted us, um, right in the middle.

Of our childhood development, you’ll see the most divisive election in modern history, regardless of whatever side you believe it was certainly a divisive, politically charged event, um, that really impacted the way our generation thinks and looks at politics and the future. And then you had this giant, uh, COVID pandemic that happened for many of us right in our high [00:21:00] school.

College, middle school developmental years that seriously, um, altered and changed, uh, what many of us view, uh, would be a normal, you know, graduation, right? So, for example, high school graduations that, you know, happened the same way for 2030 years were now virtual and online. So there was a pretty decent disruption.

And I think what created, uh, Oh, In the minds of Gen Z from some of those events and the way that we sort of grew up was a much more pragmatic approach. Um, To viewing the world, viewing their lives and viewing their careers, then sort of the, everyone feeling good times of nineties millennials. And so when I say pragmatic, I think there’s a deep desire.

If you really want to summarize the generation in sort of a one sentence clip, it’s these desire to be sort of protectors, I think the biggest recruiting. [00:22:00] Uh, connection that you’re going to find specifically with the military is protecting what we have, right? Gen Z saw so much of normal life ripped away with COVID.

They really want to hang on to, to being a protector of, uh, what is normal and what we have versus a more global, uh, service minded, positive. Millennial viewpoint. Um, so I’m happy to dive in a little bit more specific on, on what that actually means for Gen Z characteristics, uh, and what that means for recruiting.

If, if, if you’re good with

Scott DeLuzio: that. Yeah, I, I, first off, I, I just want to take, take a second here because that’s, uh, you know, an interesting way to look at it because, um, you’re right, like my high school graduation versus someone who graduated. Two, three years ago, completely different. I mean, I mean, zoom wasn’t even a thing when I graduated high school.

So like, that’s a virtual graduation would have been like, you know, [00:23:00] that just completely unheard of. Like you would have just not had a graduation if there was something that, uh, you know, that pressing that would have prevented it from happening. So yeah, there’s the technology. Technological changes.

There are the global issues like the pandemic and all that kind of stuff. Um, and then, you know, it’s interesting that you, you pointed out the protector aspect of it, like protecting what. Is considered normal, quote unquote normal. Um, and that’s a, that’s a point of view that, um, you know, I wasn’t actually, I was not expecting that would be something that you would bring it up.

Uh, I’d love for you to go a little bit more into that if you don’t mind.

Matthew Weiss: Absolutely. So I think. Again, just to compare and contrast, because one of my, my big points is that there has to be a shift between the millennial mindset and the Gen Z mindset in terms of recruiting is you try to draw some distinctions again by the events that permeated, um, [00:24:00] are our childhoods, basically, and that Protector versus service minded asset, uh, mindset.

And again, the service minded, uh, thinker do good for the world. It’s becoming a more global world. Uh, America in the nineties is the clear hegemon in the world. There’s no near peer threat. Uh, there’s, you know, struggling issues overseas that we sh that we can go out and venture out and, you know, in a very positive way, do good for, and.

Um, regardless of your opinion on the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts, uh, there, there now is a massive near peer threat overseas and there’s domestic, much more domestic strife at home. And we’re not looking at it as much of a, okay, let’s go out and, you know, service minded, be, you know, do gooder mindset, nothing against that.

That was extremely important and still in various subsets of society is, but it’s more of, well, let’s focus on, on. Ourselves, our families, our states, and then [00:25:00] our country at home, um, in relation also to overseas and protect again, what we have here, uh, so, you know, that as these service branches are trying to come up with new recruiting slogans, and I’ve talked to a lot of recruiters, they’re trying to come up with the phenotype and sort of the branding, but that protector branding is emerging as a potential connection to our generation, right?

If you recruit protectors, you’ll get protectors. And frankly, Uh, based on geopolitics of the world, that may be what we need. We need protectors, uh, more than ever now. Um, so yeah, I really, I like that moniker and I like that thinking, that line of thinking basically.

Scott DeLuzio: Yeah. And it’s interesting too, because as you’re talking about the things that shaped the Gen Z childhood, uh, if you will.

And I think back to my childhood and as I’m growing up, some of the events that took place there, there were wars there, you know, the Persian Gulf War, there was, um, domestically, there [00:26:00] were terror type events, the Oklahoma City bombing, the, um, uh, Bonding of the world trade center, the, um, you know, things like that.

Um, those were like the headline issues as we were growing up and, you know, very big disastrous. We knew from a very young age, there were bad people willing to do bad things to good people out there in the world. And so we, from my point of view, I was very much willing to go and be the person who stopped bad people from doing bad things, uh, so that.

Other people, other good people didn’t have to suffer those, those consequences of what those people chose to do. And so that was part of my motivation and not really thinking much about it up until this point, as we’re having this discussion, but like, that was a, that was a huge part for me. Um, and so, yeah, like.

Keying into the motivations of the [00:27:00] people in that generation, looking at the events that have taken place and what would motivate somebody to want to join an organization like the military, which could be an extremely dangerous job. You’re asking a lot of people to, to join, to join that, uh, that fighting force.

Um, but you know, yeah, well, yeah, you really do have to dig down and look at what are the motivations of these, these people that, that we’re trying to recruit.

Matthew Weiss: Absolutely. So I think. Another interesting point is trying to draw Misconceptions out like, who are we talking to? Who are we trying to recruit?

What are some common misconceptions that, um, maybe if you dig a little deeper are non intuitive, uh, answers come out, right? So I like to give just for an explanation of Gen Z. So you probably have heard this, this quote, and you may have used it. Um. You know, millennials very much where everyone gets a medal generation, right?

You’ve heard that, right? Like our, you know, everyone does, you [00:28:00] know, youth soccer and parents just want to make their kids happy. So they give them the participation trophy, right? Which is a very non military mindset. I think we try to break that down in almost all service branches, right? Um, but that has lingered into Gen Z.

So people will still say it today. And I find that fundamentally wrong. Actually more wrong than, than, than anything. It couldn’t be more opposite for Gen Z. So Gen Z, right, is the competition on Facebook, Instagram, TikToks to get likes generation, right? We’re the opposite. Right. So we, we. Instantly from day one, you know, social standing and whatever you want to say, popularity.

But you understand a sense of competition that was not present in youth childhood, uh, really ever in American history, right. Because of technology. So using, you know, I do think that the rapid. rate of technological increase and permeation into society, into young society, right? Everyone gets an iPhone now, right?

You [00:29:00] don’t just get a flip phone. You’re getting an iPhone at, you know, third grade level, right? So that, that metal, that trophy trope is gone. It’s, it’s the competition trope. We’re actually a very competitive generation, which the military can tap into properly though, and I think as you Peel to Gen Z, right?

And you know, I don’t want to say that the high point of a Gen Zer is being Instagram famous, right? But there’s certainly a psyche and mindset about getting more likes and becoming and growing a platform, et cetera. I think the military could analyze some things and we don’t have to get into solutions just yet in the conversation.

But one of the things is analyzing how can we make, um, that even if it’s a communal, everyone’s joining at the same time experience. Tap into that competitive drive a little, uh, or throughout your military career. Can you compete and, you know, outperform peers in certain ways to sort of grow in line with what Gen Z expects, uh, or is just used to in their childhood development.

Scott DeLuzio: Yeah, that’s an interesting [00:30:00] point. I want to get more into that, but we’re gonna cut to a quick commercial break, so stay tuned. So, Matthew, before the break, um, you had an interesting point that you were talking about the, uh, the participation trophy generation, the, um, the millennials being the, the type that, uh, everyone got a trophy and, and that type of thing.

And I, And I, I’m an older millennial, so I, I fall in that category, like just at that cutoff point, kind of like you are kind of at a, uh, kind of a cutoff point, um, with the millennial generation, I’m, I’m closer to gen X, I guess it is, um, which I actually feel like I relate more to that generation than I do the millennials.

Um, but when I was growing up, like participation trophies were not a thing at all. Um, we, we got a trophy if we were in like first place. Uh, or maybe second or third place, kind of like the Olympics. Um, but outside of that, like it was, um, unheard of that. Everybody gets a trophy. [00:31:00] Um, these days I look at my, my kids, I go to my kids sports and at the end of the season, everybody gets a trophy.

All the trophies are the same. Doesn’t matter if you’re, you were in first place or you’re in last place. Everybody gets the same trophy. And, uh, even my kids look at those trophies and they’re like. What the hell is this? Like, why am I, why am I getting a trophy? What did I do that was so special that deserves a trophy?

And so I think, you know, to, um, to your point there, I sort of see it kind of a little bit differently, but there, there may be some truth to what you’re saying to in, in terms of, um, the, the competition, uh, that, you know, the, the younger generation, they, they still want to. Earn something. They want to earn that, that trophy.

They want to get the, um, you know, in some cases it’s the, the likes on social media or whatever, but they, they have that kind of fire in them to, to want to earn something and not just be handed a trophy. Right. Um, [00:32:00] now that sort of leads into my, my next question here about how can American society. As a whole contribute to rebuilding the value proposition of military service and bridging that gap between Gen Z and the military.

Matthew Weiss: It’s a great question, Scott. And so in the, in the book, in part three, I tackle that question. And I literally ask, you know, what a larger aspects of society that are really impacting Gen Z recruitment. Um, so before you heard me talk about, you know, protecting the military from politics, um, I won’t, I won’t double tap that one again, although it is an important point.

Um, but I’ll just run through a few ideas, um, on some other larger societal issues here that I think are pretty interesting to analyze. And again, I sort of do a, a description of the issue and then a prescription of a possible solution. Um, hoping again, I hope I’m disagreed with, I hope both sides on different.[00:33:00]

Viewpoints disagree and agree with certain points of these solutions, but again, this is for stimulating that discussion. So the first one being, um, let’s look at Gen Z and the impact technology has had because I argue that the, the permeation of. of technology in our lives is just a huge factor that has greatly changed the normal development of American Gen Z life, youth and child lives, youth, youth and childhood, basically, right?

It’s a big change. We’ve so exponentially increased our technology usage, that that is impacting us in our development in many ways. It’s right there is a kid is in third grade getting an iPhone and tick tock apps and Instagram. That is a very different type of childhood than, you know, go play in the yard.

Johnny, like used to happen for, you know, 30 years, right? So what are, what are two things that are happening? So the first is that there is [00:34:00] a massive mental health crisis with Gen Z. Both anecdotally reported, both via medication over medication could be a different discussion. Um, and then statistical actual medical reporting, Gen Z is suffering from more depression and more anxiety than any other generation.

So what is happening to our young people? And the, the, the issue with that, or the way that relates to military recruitment is that Gen Z is going to seek employers that support their mental health and that support mental health initiatives. So the way that we’ve done military. Um, health in the past is, is primarily, you know, physical base, right?

That, you know, physical battlefield injury, physical base, mental health. Um, while we’ve seen increasing recognition of some of the terrible symptoms of PTSD and, um, mental health issues from the battlefield, it’s still when you’re. inducted into the military. That’s not the main focus, right? You do your physical exam at a map station and then you go.

So one of the, [00:35:00] the ways, you know, to cope with these issues of the mind of Gen Z, um, is to change that military health aspect around the younger population needs more mental health. rather than physical health support, right? If we can have core minimetics supporting the mental health of our newest enlistees, that will be a significant benefit to.

Sort of changing this viewpoint about a, the military is bad for your mental health, which is going to turn everyone off from Gen Z and B the military is actually a place that supports positive mental health that can help you grow. Uh, you develop resilience, develop discipline, but also be supported by the existing health infrastructure.

So shaping the health infrastructure around is, is a very important point in my opinion. The second point related to technology, um, is really an unplugging. So we’re always on world now, there’s a ton of just being on, being focused, always in [00:36:00] technology, this app, that app, ping, zing, whatever you want to say, and that constant pinging is, is actually crushing Gen Z, again, leading to mental health issues, but a lot of them Are beginning to crave some time unplugged in order to reset.

So there’s these weird, uh, not Luddite movements, but these sort of retro movements where people are throwing out their smartphones in exchange for like a, a more basic, easier flip phone. Uh, because people want that reset. They realize this is this something feels off. This is not natural. So I think there’s a good.

Strong, large enough subset of Gen Z that needs that sort of real world responsibility bearing limited technology experience with sort of a screen time reset that a lot of military bootcamp can provide. And sort of some parts of, you know, military field experience can provide. And I think that’s the way the military can brand itself to, to connect with the generation.

Um, two other points, uh, departing sort of the technology discussion. Thank you. Um, sort of the warrior [00:37:00] mindset, right? Creating future warriors. So society and growing up today in America has shifted, right? I remember my dad telling stories and a lot of our grandparents like fights in the schoolyard and, you know, physical like bullying and you know, that that’s shifted.

It’s become sort of, there’s this horrible cyber bullying that’s arguably even worse and has led to some terrible unfortunate suicides and, and. A lot of mental health issues, but we’re losing, uh, aspect of our physical sort of warrior self, right? If you look at just historical, uh, past, right. A lot of societies have had that, uh, warrior mindset.

They’ve had that big coming of age moment. Um, you know, when they, they do something that they go out and they hunt something or they go and they win a contest and that’s been a cultural thing. We don’t really have that anymore. And I argue HR McMaster, he writes a great. Article about, uh, that warrior mindset that we need to inculcate a little bit of a warrior mindset in some of our youth, um, that some people can [00:38:00] take on to become an actual warrior for society.

And what do I actually mean by that? I think that in gym class, physical, physical education, for example, while it’s different from state to state, um, There’s a lot of, uh, new trends going on, right? We’re replacing some of the old sports with new ones. We’re playing, you know, stuff like volleyball and gym and, uh, doing health class, which is great.

I’m not saying anything bad about that, but a lot of schools are no longer having any martial arts training or any sort of physical defense training. I think that’s a big issue because even. A little bit of physical training, physical martial arts, physical defense, the ability to defend oneself, uh, to commit a controlled act of violence in, in, in the case of defense, um, is, is a good starting ground for potential future warriors or, or creating that warrior mindset for those that are interested in that, right?

That doesn’t mean everyone’s getting black belts in gym class now, but that means. That we could have a little bit of [00:39:00] martial arts training in certain gym curriculums, uh, throughout all ages of, you know, development, elementary school, middle school, high school, whatever, uh, to really be able to build some level of a future warrior mindset, right?

Martial arts being an easy way to do that. Um, that’s important. And then, uh, just to give another major point again, I know I’m shotgunning a lot of, a lot of, uh, ideas out here, but these are interesting discussion points for, for viewers to, uh, Have future talks about, um, are basically, uh, uh, substances, right?

So the generation itself, and I’m not advocating at all for the use of any type of substance, uh, in any way. Uh, but the point being that the generation views marijuana, frankly, in line with. if not more favorably than alcohol, right? So the two substances in the military are treated extremely differently, right?

So one, your analysis of marijuana can get you thrown out of the military in a second, while, you know, six beers in [00:40:00] a bar fight is sometimes, you know, unfortunately looked at as a positive thing or an acceptable thing for that. Um, and that’s a changing viewpoint, right? Again, different, hard for some gen xers to hear, but it is an objectively different way that this generation looks at those two substances.

So we have to ask ourselves as an institution, if we want to be able to, um, relate this generation, if we want to change some of the thinking. Around that, uh, and understand, Hey, you know, um, that’s, that’s adapt, right? That’s, that’s maybe look at these two substances in line, not encouraging the use of either of them, but realizing that if they’re going to occur in a certain proportion of usage, right, to maybe not hold one.

Maybe to hold them at a similar standard for that matter. Um, and that, that could be a way. So those are really, you know, four plus the, the political point, four ways that society at large is macro societal issues, right? Mental [00:41:00] health, politics, drugs, uh, and alcohol. The way that those things can be, uh, impacting generation Z and military

Scott DeLuzio: recruitment.

Yeah. And I think those, those are all interesting points. I think all of them are equally worthy of, uh, probably a whole discussion on their own. Um, one point that you made and, uh, Maybe you want to make a bit of a counterpoint. And this is just from my perspective, I could be wrong. Um, you know, listeners, feel free to let me know if you disagree with this.

But from my point of view, um, you know, I look at sports as, um, uh, like when I was a kid, uh, playing baseball or hockey or whatever sport it was, you went out on the field and you played to win. That was just the mindset you got out on the field. You, you hustled, you gave it your all. Um, you were dirty, you were bloody, you were bruised.

You were at the end of the game. You, you were, you put everything into the game. [00:42:00] Um, these days, like I go to my kids games and. I see the kids out there on the field. Now they’re dragging ass and they are, they’re not in it to win. They’re just going out to have a good time. This is just, this is their fresh air time.

This is their, to your point, their break away from the screens, the devices. Um, they’re just out there and they’re out there for a good time. Um, but I think. The attitude that we had back when I was growing up, um, gives more of that kind of warrior mindset where it’s, it’s like, this is, this is my team.

This is my unit. This is my group. This is whatever I’m fighting to win for this team. Like, I’m not going to give up on the other guys who are out on the field. I’m going to, I’m going to not be the one. Who causes us to lose this game? I’m going to keep fighting. And that kind of mindset I think is, is what’s needed.

Um, you know, in addition to the martial arts, I’m not, I’m not disagreeing with that point at all. But I think in addition to that, I think that’s the kind of mindset [00:43:00] that’s really needed, uh, going forward.

Matthew Weiss: Absolutely. And so I think that another interesting point to bring up in looking at. You know, what the military and the jobs that we have to offer the military are as a whole, um, is, is who gets, you know, the media attention. And what do people initially think is the phenotype? This, this is a good point that I was talking about the other day with, with a Marine Colonel, um, who, you know, typical infantry officer recon, you know, really war fighting sort of heroic, a very inspiring guy.

And one of the things we need to realize. There will always be a subset of American society and of Gen Z, right? Of every generation that is going to naturally be attracted towards that real typical, what we would think of as warrior war fighting, right? They want to be a grunt, run around with a rifle and just do the typical military thing, which is great.

Um, [00:44:00] and my thesis and my point is that when we’re never going to be lacking for those people. Well, it doesn’t seem the data doesn’t show that we’re going to be lacking for those people. Right. You know, special operations is extremely high. Um, You know, washout rate at high recruitment rate, right? They’re still getting their numbers.

Those organizations, the military gang, as a whole, where you’re starting to lose people and where we’re really fighting in this recruitment crisis are on the jobs that are more service related, right? You know, we say combat ratios are, you know, 10 to one of every one infantryman. There are 10 support roles.

Um, but the jobs that are more, um. I don’t want to say ancillary to the main effort. Cause again, this is not how we should talk about this, or we’ve become so obsessed with special operations. We need to realize that in massive land battles or massive future conflicts, we’re going to need the entire force, but all those supporting functions, that’s where there’s sort of a key, [00:45:00] uh, Issue occurring, right?

Because if you think about it, right, there’s certain jobs in the military that are very similar, extremely similar to civilian jobs. So if you’re an 18 year old interested in a specific field, I don’t want to pick anyone per se, but we’ll just say supply chain management, which is a key military task, extremely important.

And you’re looking at this and you can say, I can go work at Amazon and do supply chain management, or I can go get yelled at for a bunch of weeks in the bootcamp and then Do it. Go and do supply chain management in the army. You’re going to probably maybe pick Amazon, right? Or a certain population is already picking Amazon.

And so, so that’s, that’s an issue there that we need to realize that not everyone is obviously joining for the same reason. Uh, and with that, with the warrior mindset, you still need to. To keep enough of that warrior mindset in society so that people can pick supply chain management in the military.

Cause it’s more of a warrior mindset, right? Because they’re still warriors in their own way, not toting the uh, you know, the rifle [00:46:00] around. Uh, and to keep that. And that’s where I think there’s a large pickup and a large on the mar. It’s not even on the margins cause it’s the majority, but, but military planners will think of it on the margins.

That’s where there’s a huge group that. Uh, you’re failing in recruitment and that you need to really reach out

Scott DeLuzio: to it. Yeah, I agree. Um, let’s, uh, take another quick commercial break. Uh, but when we get back, we’ll, uh, wrap up this episode and, uh, tell you a little bit more about, uh, Matt’s book and where, where to get it.

So stay tuned. So Matt, uh, first off, thank you for taking the time to join me on the show. Um, thank you for doing what you’re doing as far as, uh, Doing the research, talking to the people, figuring out what’s going on with this generation and why the military is having such a tough time recruiting people.

Um, I’d like to just give you the last couple of minutes here. Uh, any final thoughts that you might have and, uh, also let people know where they can, uh, can find a copy [00:47:00] of the book when it comes out.

Matthew Weiss: Absolutely. Well, Scott, thank you so much again. I really appreciate the time. Um, and the ability in the platform to speak about this, I do think it is a massively important issue to discuss and to really bring different viewpoints, different ideas so that we can come to a solution because, like I said, it’s a really multifaceted problem and it’s going to require a lot of creative thinking solution.

So I joke, there’s a disclaimer in the book, uh, you know, I hope I. Positively pissed off both sides of the political aisle. Everyone anywhere is going to like something about this book and dislike something. And I wrote it very much down the middle of the line to really encourage that. So by all means, some of these ideas are wrong.

Um, some of them are right, but I really want this discussion to be had. The more that we can have this discussion, we can start to understand generation Z, understand what motivates them. And then. Make solutions, military and society to, to push them positively [00:48:00] towards, uh, what I believe is a great career path and a great experience.

Um, I like to say that the end benefit and military is the world’s greatest physical social network. And I think a lot of people agree that connections you make in the military, the greatest. So the book can be found right on Amazon. Just we don’t want you Uncle Sam by Matthew Weiss. That’s the only platform I’m actually selling it on.

Um, So typical Amazon search for the book. I do have a website www. unclesambook. org. Um, unclesambook. org has all my chapter theses and ideas. You can go and look at them right now. Again, just want as many people to see them as possible. And there’s a Actually an option on the website, uh, to add your own thoughts.

You know, you can quickly type in, Hey, this is what I believe. Right. And, uh, that’s cool. As I start to sort of collect that data, but, uh, again, thank you so

Scott DeLuzio: much. Yeah, absolutely. And we’ll have links to all of that in the show notes. Uh, again, check out Amazon, uh, for the book. Um, we’ll have a link to that in the show [00:49:00] notes too.

So, um, thank you Matthew for taking the time to, to join us and, uh, share the work that you’re doing to try to address this issue.

Thanks for listening to the drive on podcast. If you want to support the show, please check out Scott’s book, Surviving Son on Amazon, all of the sales from that book, go directly back into this podcast and work to help veterans in need. You can also follow the Drive On Podcast on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, and wherever you listen to podcasts.

Leave a Comment