Recruiting the next generation: a study of attitudes, values, and beliefs
Wilcox, Andrew G.
Eitelberg, Mark J.
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This study examines the attitudes, values, and beliefs of teenagers regarding military service. Specifically, the study looks at generational theory, the characteristics and views of the so-called 'Millennial' generation, factors that influence attitudes toward military service, and recruiting strategies used by the Navy and Marine Corps. The study identifies the uniqueness of the next generation of youth, or Millennials, because of the interconnected relationship of five forces of influence: 'baby boomer' parents, education, the new economy, technology, and the media. Information on youth attitudes was collected through 36 focus groups, including 677 teenagers at nine high schools in six states. Data obtained from the focus groups reveal common trends across schools and states: teenagers exhibit relatively little knowledge or understanding of the military; higher education is the military's chief competitor for recruits; and the dissuaders of military service are far stronger than the persuaders of service (due largely to misperceptions and ignorance). Recommendations to improve recruiting are offered, particularly the need to better inform teens about the realities of military service. Efforts toward this end should enhance long-term military recruiting efforts.
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