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Millennials and the Defense Industry.

I've been a long-time reader of National Defense and while reading the April issue, I felt that the Viewpoint article, "Defense Industry Must Learn to Woo Millennials," was off-base when trying to speak about hiring a large swath of the workforce.

I am both a millennial and a defense worker of seven years and feel that I have some knowledge in this area.

As I read through the first issue listed--that the work wasn't "Instagrammable"--I almost considered this might not be a serious article given that it was April.

It became evident that the author missed what likely amounts to the most difficult-to-remedy reason young people don't want to join a variety of government forces from the Defense Department to the Department of Homeland Security: their poor reputation for protecting human life and rights to privacy.

Better or worse, fair or not, many young people don't think about drone warfare as "unique and rewarding" or "noble reasons" as the article wrote--they think about the civilian casualties they have read about.

The National Security Agency's SIGINT mission isn't securing the nation, it is spying and associated with the reputation gained from the public outcry after the Edward Snowden leaks and resulting aftermath. The list goes on.

In fact, the third issue, namely potential workers' dismay with sustaining legacy technologies, is no doubt a much more impactful issue than any of the others to a generation that understands that while careers are long term, jobs are temporary, and a multi-year stint writing COBOL and Fortran on codebases from the 1970s won't look good on a resume.

The article does not address how would-be employers of young people will actually remedy these issues. It basically hand-waves them away.

While I don't know for sure, based on the article I assume that the readership of National Defense skews older. I don't believe that this article addresses the real issues hampering the Defense Department and the intelligence community from recruiting young people to support their critical work.

I felt strongly enough about this subject that I wanted to write in. There is more of this story to tell, and as Gen Z begins to join the workforce as I write this, it will become more critical than ever.

Jonathan Helinek via email

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Title Annotation:Readers' Forum
Author:Helinek, Jonathan
Publication:National Defense
Date:May 1, 2020
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