No one doubts the great amount of integrity, strength and discipline required to serve the U.S. armed forces. Yet, many myths about military life prevail among the public. Military.com listed some of the most common: that servicemembers are isolated from their families and friends, unable to start their own families, penalized for getting pregnant, unable to pay for college and left alone after leaving the service. These misconceptions cause perfectly acceptable candidates to question their own enrollment.
The U.S. Department of Defense plans to change these ideas with a new initiative known as This Is Your Military. Launched Feb. 1, 2018, This Is Your Military was designed to familiarize the American public with the 1 percent of the population that serves in the armed forces.
"We want to showcase how the military is relevant to Americans' lives on a daily basis, and how innovative the department is, and how we're a force for good," said Amber Smith, former deputy assistant to the Secretary of Defense for outreach.
Showing the truth of military life
This Is Your Military shines a light on military missions that the American public might not think of. Instead of focusing on battles overseas, the project tells stories of domestic disaster relief, community service and more. Some stories even feature civilians taking tours of military bases.
For example, one article tells the story of a group of higher education leaders who got the opportunity to attend the Mini Joint Civilian Orientation Conference in late April. Attendees got a glimpse into military life (even getting to look inside official vehicles and machinery) and learned how they can help by engaging directly with servicemembers to hear their needs firsthand.
"Through their insights, we left with new understandings, updated perceptions and creative ideas about how to improve higher education pathways for individuals with military backgrounds and recognize more fully the skills and expertise they bring to our workforce, economy and communities," wrote Dr. Carrie Besnett Hauser, conference attendee and president and CEO of Colorado Mountain College, for DoD Live, the official blog of the Department of Defense.
Additionally, the project aims to counteract the idea that military service causes mental grief. This Is Your Military points out that many servicemembers have fulfilling jobs and can support their families. Furthermore, This Is Your Military also plans to emphasize the numerous roles women can achieve within the armed forces, showing that women can be active members and not simply serve in support positions.
This Is Your Military will showcase a different aspect of military life each month – including, but not limited to innovation, entrepreneurship, family life, jobs, benefits and global missions – via video, photographs, coverage of recreational and ceremonial events, and even graphic imagery. In fact, a new exclusive poster is unveiled each month, viewable on the official This Is Your Military website.
What's more, the website isn't the only place people can see This Is Your Military content. The initiative also appears on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, and content on these platforms is connected by the hashtag #KnowYourMil.
With Pew Research showing the number of active-duty servicemembers continuously decreasing, falling from just over 2 million in 1990 to 1.3 million in 2015, initiatives like This Is Your Military will hopefully be effective in encouraging more men and women to enlist. It will also correct common military myths among civilians, making people less likely to repeat untruths and discourage others from enrolling.