February 1 marked day one of a new Department of Defense program called “This is Your Military.” The program’s mission is to introduce the public to the less than 1 percent who currently serve in the military and to fix common misconceptions like all people who served in the military are emotionally unstable or suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder.
Amber Smith, Deputy Assistant to the Secretary of Defense for Outreach in Public Affairs described the program to reporters saying, “We’re going to be attempting to break through that layer and talk to people who may not be informed about the military or have misconceptions about the military or are uninterested in the military.”
Smith continued “Some of the trends we found are a majority of young adults think that if you serve in the military, upon leaving the military you are going to have a psychological or an emotional issue or a physical injury.”
The 2017 Blue Star Families’ Military Family Lifestyle Survey supports some the trends Smith mentioned — it found 48 percent of veterans’ spouses said their veteran exhibited signs of PTSD within the last year. The same survey also found the divide between military and civilian has become more pronounced–stating that 51 percent of military families feel they don’t belong in their local civilian community and 31 percent of service members said they have not had an in-depth conversation with a civilian in the past month.
Research shows that during the mid 1990’s, 40 percent of young adults had a direct connection to a veteran in their family. That number has dropped to 15 percent today.
The dearth of connections between the military and civilian worlds is worrisome for the Pentagon and veterans groups and misconceptions can hinder their goals. Troops transitioning back into civilian life need to find support systems outside of the military and DoD is trying to attract different types of people into donning the uniform.
Know Your Military will be broken into monthly themes that include: What can you do in the military? Married in the military, benefits of service and What does it mean to serve?
The campaign will be mostly digital in nature – utilizing social media platforms to reach a broad audience and maximizing existing Pentagon outreach programs. Senior Pentagon personnel will be headlining various speaking engagements to help spread the word as well.
The initiative is using the hashtag #KnowYourMil.
Featured photo courtesy of jbsa.mil