Episode 179: We Don’t Want You, Uncle Sam with 2nd Lieutenant Matthew Weiss

August 16, 2023

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Ever wonder why Generation Z seems to be shying away from military service? Today, we have the pleasure of discussing the topic with  Second Lieutenant Matthew Weiss, a Gen Z military officer himself and author of “We Don’t Want You, Uncle Sam,” to explore this pressing issue. Together, we unpack the unique characteristics of Gen Z, the obstacles stalling military recruitment, and Matthew’s proposed solutions to bridge the gap.

Attention parents, we uncover the crucial roles veteran parents play in their children’s decision to enlist. Get ready for candid talks about the realities of military life. Matthew lends his insights on how expressing the truth about our military career can boost recruitment. 

Most importantly, we address female recruitment in the military. We highlight the struggles faced by female service members, the potential for recruiting more women, and the urgent need to tackle sexual assault in the military. Lastly, we discuss how Matthew’s book could be a game-changer in military recruitment strategies. 

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Matthew Weiss

[00:00:00] Wendi Wray: Hello ladies, and welcome to episode 179. am so excited to be here with you. If you are watching this on YouTube, you already see that I have a special guest, but if you’re tuning in from just from your car, from your home, or maybe even from your office, can find this video in the show notes at a later time.

[00:00:17] Wendi Wray: But I do have a guest today and I’m really excited to share with you not only a little bit more about Matthew Weiss, but also on what he has been working on and really what inspired him to. only write this book, but really come on this platform and many other platforms to not only share this message, but to also improve our, um, recruiting, um, that we have going on now, especially with the new generation.

[00:00:43] Wendi Wray: So with that, I wanna introduce Matthew Weiss Welcome. And please introduce yourself to the audience.

[00:00:52] Matthew Weiss: Hey Wendi. Thanks so much for having me on. Um, I’m second lieutenant Matthew Weiss. I am, uh, very junior. Just joined the [00:01:00] Marine Corps a year and a half ago. Um, and very proudly, I’m a member of Generation Z . Uh, so over the past year or so, uh, because I was so recently recruited into the military, I embarked on a project where I did a bunch of research and, uh, wrote a book.

[00:01:15] Matthew Weiss: We Don’t Want You Uncle Sam, that’s basically . Analyzing and then trying to come up with some solutions about the military recruitment crisis that we’re seeing now with Generation Z. So I figured who better to write about Generation Z than someone actually born in America’s youngest generation. And uh, that’s where I am today.

[00:01:38] Wendi Wray: Yeah. No, I love it. And first I wanna say, you know, thank you for your service and I know that this is something that you’ve, like you mentioned, it’s a project that you kind of took upon yourself, and that’s very typical of, um, not only young officers, but also your marine. And, you know, I wanna thank you for that. I also want to, you know, ask, you know, [00:02:00] we don’t want you Uncle Sam, like, that’s such a catchy. where did that come from?

[00:02:07] Matthew Weiss: Yeah, I, I, I definitely did a lot of creative brainstorming for it, but you know, the most famous recruiting poster and recruiting slogan in American military history is, uh, the picture of Uncle Sam. It was a World War I poster, that famous one where he’s grimacing and he is sort of pointing and saying, I want you for US Army.

[00:02:27] Matthew Weiss: And unfortunately, if you look at the state of affairs today and, um, all news outlets reporting Generation Z, the current recruitable, um, generation for the military is, is rejecting that right where our numbers are lower than ever or recruiting crisis is, is bigger and deeper than ever. So I sort of looked at it, I said, well, we’re sort of saying we don’t want you Uncle Sam, and that became, uh, the hopefully catchy slogan or the title of the book.

[00:02:55] Matthew Weiss: So that’s where it came from.

[00:02:59] Wendi Wray: Yeah. [00:03:00] Yeah. No, and I think this is very interesting because, and, and I know typically just to give, um, our listeners background on how we kind of met and, you know, um, why I also was really, um, excited to have you to share this because one, um, we met through, I believe it was, um, LinkedIn, just email kind of. Small talk conversation when you shared with me, we don’t want you Uncle Sam, that’s really what grabbed my attention. Um, not only, like you mentioned, the recruiting crisis within the military, um, services, but also just across any other occupation, right? Like everyone, um, is really looking into, especially Gen Z. On where they really want to start a career, like where want to, um, begin that next chapter of their lives. Because it’s very important once you leave home, once you graduate, um, you know, what is it that I wanna do, right? It’s a question that has as you’re evolving and you’re going into adulthood, [00:04:00] and so, You know, this, um, topic, this title really resonates with me. Two, because one, I, I’m not Gen Z, but as I am looking into the Gen Z, as my kids were growing up and everything else, know, it really just, um, It really hit home for me because also at the time while you or I were having a conversation, one of my clients, she’s a recruiter from New York City, and so is a conversation that she and I had, um, when we were, um, working together regarding, you know, her job and how, you know, it’s become very difficult to have conversations with Gen Z, the Gen Z community. And so before we go any further too, let’s clarify the Gen Z because I don’t know if everyone, I’m pretty sure most of us know what Gen Z is, but what would you say, like the dates, what would classify Gen Z community?[00:05:00]

[00:05:00] Matthew Weiss: Absolutely. Great question. So, uh, pew research defines generations based on specific years. So the technical term for Generation Z is those born between 1998.

[00:05:14] Matthew Weiss: 2012, um, when I was doing the research and, and when you analyze something as large as a generation, there’s no, you know, defined cutoff this year versus that year.

[00:05:26] Matthew Weiss: Someone born in 1997 is pretty similar to someone born in 1998, even though one’s a millennial and a gen seer. But the better way to look at it is . Based on those cutoffs, roughly, there’s definitely a large difference. If you look at someone born in 1995, 2002. So for example, my brother, right, six years younger than me, that core middle of generation Z years is completely different than some of my friends who graduated high school, a few years older than me.

[00:05:56] Matthew Weiss: And that’s where you start to see there are generational [00:06:00] characteristics, generational interests and trends that actually define what we would call a millennial, what we would call a boomer, what we would call a genzer. And that’s what I really . Dug into and, um, I’m sure, we’ll, we’ll get into certain parts of the book in a little, but one of the baselines was understanding, you know, what is our generation, what is this new generation, gen Z?

[00:06:22] Matthew Weiss: like you said, . Recruiters and companies all across the country are trying to understand this specifically. The military needs to take a step back and start with that question saying, who is this new generation? How do we understand this? Because that’s step one. If you don’t understand who you’re recruiting, then you’re, you’re finished before you even begin.

[00:06:41] Matthew Weiss: So that’s like literally step one, understanding what is Gen Z? What drives this characteristic of people born roughly between those years of 98 to 2012?

[00:06:54] Wendi Wray: Yeah, no, you’re right. Because in order for you to recruit, you need to know, you know, [00:07:00] what they’re looking for, right? Because then you can not only sell them on that dream or also, um, those opportunities because the reason I signed up is completely different. I’m sure for the reason that you signed up. And, you know, not to say that there any of the reasons are better or, you know, um, taken away from, but at the same time things were different back, um, 10 years ago, and this was in 2007, so. I mean, it’s really been more than 10 years ago. Right? So it’s a different language, a different way you approach, the younger community now. And so now for you for everyone listening, you’re probably thinking, well, how is this really even important for me? You know, I’m a, I’m a female veteran, you know, how is this going to affect future female, um, recruits?

[00:07:59] Wendi Wray: Absolutely. [00:08:00] So I think there’s, there’s three ways that, uh, that I can answer this. And I, and I’ll jump into all three. Feel free to cut me off ’cause I am known to like to talk. So, so the first is from any, any veteran, female, male, mother, father, you know, those with kids that are coming up. . Uh, through school.

[00:08:19] Wendi Wray: Now understanding that the generation is, is interesting, right? So if we start with that, and, and that’s sort of the whole first part of the book, it’s, it’s saying, okay, so who are these Gen Zers? And one of the best ways to do that, besides talking to them and reading some of these statistical research polls is understanding the larger events that, uh, that happened in their lifetime.

[00:08:39] Wendi Wray: So, for example, one of the the key . Contradictions that I bring out, or one of the key, I think, misconceptions people have is that, uh, gen Z is the, everyone gets a trophy generation, and that’s actually false. So we, we’ve always heard this trope in America, you know, we’re becoming soft and everyone gets a trophy nowadays.

[00:08:59] Wendi Wray: And [00:09:00] while that may have held true for some of the millennial generations, and, uh, some of those in, in the millennial generation, they grew up in the nineties, really good times. Everything positive that sort of held true z was. Bordered by some rather interesting world events. We’re too young to remember.

[00:09:16] Wendi Wray: Nine 11. Nine 11 didn’t really impact us, uh, in our, in our living memories. And most of us weren’t. Gen weren’t born for it, but we were born and sort of initially raised in a major great recession, right? The great financial crisis that happened. We had an extremely divisive election happen right during our formative educational years.

[00:09:38] Wendi Wray: And then that was bookended by Covid. So, you know, three major world events that sort of shaped our generation to be much more pragmatic, much more, uh, desire to protect that sort of . What we have, ’cause we’re entering sort of an unstable period and unstable world and contrary to everyone gets a trophy.

[00:09:58] Wendi Wray: We’re actually a very competitive [00:10:00] generation. We grew up with social media. We grew up with likes for better or for worse, on Instagram and Facebook. Literally from day one. We know . Like life is a competition in some ways, and we are very much competing. Hey, he has more likes, she’s more likes, whatever. So we’re a little bit different, uh, than I think what people like to give us a rap for.

[00:10:20] Wendi Wray: Um, so that, that’s part one, uh, of, of who is the generation and how does that affect female veterans and those with kids coming up. Um, Part two, and I think I, I would like to just delve in and lead off with, you know, there’s 21 chapters in the book and they each del talk about sort of a specific issue or specific, um, um, you know, uh, way to solve that issue.

[00:10:44] Wendi Wray: Um, so specifically for, female

[00:10:47] Wendi Wray: I’ll start with that. And then I’ll do females, uh, in general, but for female veterans. So I think, uh, one of the chapters that I talk about, Is, is specifically how veterans play a role in solving this [00:11:00] recruiting crisis. And what we’re seeing in recruiting is, again, massive issues in recruiting.

[00:11:06] Wendi Wray: Lowest numbers we’ve had in the 50 years of the all volunteer force started in 1973. And so a lot of the veterans that served in the Iraq, Afghanistan wars who are now out and in the world have a, have a choice to make. And that choice is how do I, uh, A, continue to give back to the institution. B, you know, not interact with the institution at all, or C you know, I’ve yet to make up my mind.

[00:11:32] Wendi Wray: And so chapter four. I a title it sort of enabling veterans to continue to serve. And I think that veterans in particular are the key group, if not the most important, uh, group that will be able to influence this, this future recruiting crisis and actually getting people potentially into uniform or not based on how they share their past experiences.

[00:11:53] Wendi Wray: And so one of the things I sort of call for is that, you know, veterans need to be honest. Right there, there was a [00:12:00] lot of, uh, Pain, trauma difficulty that happened via the Iraq and Afghanistan times, and Gen Z is desiring that transparency, right? There’s some of these tropes that, oh, we don’t know if recruiters are telling us the truth or not, et cetera, but, but veterans have that key story to tell and that key, good, bad, and ugly that needs to be delivered that Gen Z really likes, or z likes realism.

[00:12:23] Wendi Wray: And so veterans are the key to understanding that realism. So to all, all your, your, your listeners who are, who are veterans, right? There’s really that . Understanding that one of the best ways they can continue to serve the institution that either gave them a lot or, or you know, it certainly impacted their lives, is to be a voice to the future Gen Zers.

[00:12:43] Wendi Wray: But not to be a, you know, a foolish voice saying The military is great, everything about it is perfect, but just be that real voice and, hey, here’s the good, the bad, the ugly.

[00:12:49] Wendi Wray: Let me you the information you need, um, and let you, uh, You sort of make a decision or ask me questions about that yourself, so that that’s a specific message [00:13:00] to veterans.

[00:13:00] Wendi Wray: ’cause they do play a huge part in this recruiting crisis. They’re, they’re the frontline of this crisis in many ways. Um, I know just spoke for a lot. You can jump in or I could jump right to chapter 18, which is specifically about sort of females and some of thinking there.

[00:13:16] Wendi Wray: Yeah. And, and before you go into that chapter, which again, I appreciate the detail and everything that you’re sharing here because it brings up a great point when you mentioned, you know, sharing letting that potential recruit believe that everything is great in the military, right? Like being fully transparent really hurts them in the long run. And it really hurts everyone in the long run because think now, especially with Gen Z, what I’ve noticed, and I will say, um, generation has more courage than any, you know, than the generation before. Let’s just say. We’re very, um, you guys are very want [00:14:00] to take action based on what you believe in that moment, right?

[00:14:04] Wendi Wray: So for, for our generation, we were kind of like in the, in the, middle of social media, like kinda like taking off. So we didn’t really know. Everything that was actually happening because video wasn’t really a thing, you know, reels or TikTok. Now you can find most recent news through TikTok. That’s literally how my kids, get their, their news.

[00:14:28] Wendi Wray: They, anything sports related, anything that’s happening in our area, they’re like, oh, this is what’s happening because of this 15 second video. so with that, they’re like encouraged to, to say, What they think and how they feel. And so now understanding that this is how Gen Z, only, I don’t wanna say, um, action, but really, um, digests or processes [00:15:00] things, then we should really be honest and transparent.

[00:15:03] Wendi Wray: Because, I mean, you’re a great example, right? You’re completely new to the military and you’re like, well, here’s. The things that I’ve noticed already where, you know, I’m not getting much clarity or one of the reasons maybe I didn’t sign up or I didn’t, you know, into the, to the Marines and you’re now taking action.

[00:15:24] Wendi Wray: You’re, you’re talking about this, you are, you pretty much are publishing a book here in the next or so. August 11th is when this book drops, and so you wasted no time. and putting this into writing, and so again, says a lot about Gen Z. And so for all my recruiters out there, especially if you’re in an area when you’re, and you’re pretty much exhausted and overwhelmed with how do you communicate with Gen z, I wanna really invite you to not only check out more on this recruiting crisis that we’re having for the Gen [00:16:00] Z generation, because I would assume everyone’s wanting to recruit. The, the, the Gen Z generation at the moment, right? We’re not looking at the millennials because there’s a certain cutoff date for, for your age. And so I really wanna invite you to check this out and really learn more on what that’s happening because the more you can equip yourself with the tools and understanding, then even more so ask those questions when you’re out there. With, with the young. With the young people. With the young ladies. With the young guys. And maybe even asking your, your kids, because I have a lot of, um, female veterans that are now actually one of my friends. She’s in Texas. She just sent off two of her kids. One in the Air Force and one in the Army, two the military.

[00:16:42] Wendi Wray: Well, um, within two years, but again, these are the questions that you want to have more clarification on, especially if you are a recruiter. Or if you are a mother of kids that are possibly thinking about joining the military, or maybe they don’t know what they wanna do, [00:17:00] this is also an opportunity for you to explore that.

[00:17:03] Wendi Wray: Right. And so, thank you so much for clarifying on that and um, and, and really giving us that insight on, um, like you mentioned, you know, we want the truth, we want full transparency

[00:17:17] Matthew Weiss: Yep.

[00:17:18] Wendi Wray: If you

[00:17:19] Wendi Wray: be honest and post it on TikTok or any other social media

[00:17:22] Matthew Weiss: E. E, exactly.

[00:17:24] Wendi Wray: me, which I was, yeah, when I was coming through, it was, it was a joke, but now it’s like reality, like this is something serious.

[00:17:34] Matthew Weiss: Yep. I’ll give you a great, uh, a, a great analogy. So, do you know who, uh, who doesn’t get scammed by online, uh, ads. Gen Z, do you know who does get scammed? You know, my grandmother or the older generations that are new to tech, right? So, and here, here’s what I mean by that, right? We, we are so technologically savvy and we grew up so good at it, right?[00:18:00]

[00:18:00] Matthew Weiss: Remember the, the child brain learns faster than the adult brain, right? The fact that we literally were basically, you know, from birth, given an iPhone and, you know, able to click around on apps. We know instantly when an ad is, is real, when it’s not. We understand that. Like they’re li the, the devices listened to us and if you talk about popcorn and then you see a popcorn ad, you know, there’s some voice recognition there.

[00:18:21] Matthew Weiss: so . I’d argue because of that, we’re intuitively trained. You know, my, my grandma not so much. He’s always clicking on the wrong links and stuff, right. But my, but we’re intuitively trained to understand when we’re being sold to, right? We’re much, much more tuned. We know when that’s going on because of that tech connection.

[00:18:40] Matthew Weiss: And so one of the, the arguments that I think is important to recruiters, whether military recruiters or corporate recruiters, whatever, whatever type is, is moving more, less from a traditional sales . Pitch, right? And more to a mentorship, coaching, and guidance pitch, right? ’cause that is what Generation Z is seeking

[00:18:57] Matthew Weiss: this ever changing, very fast changing world [00:19:00] looking for, for mentorship and guidance, but very much instantly averse to sales, right?

[00:19:05] Matthew Weiss: Like we, we know, like, you know, we almost have a thing when you click on Google, those first two links or sales links, like, we’re not gonna click on that. We, we just get it, right? So . We’re to, oh, someone’s talking. They’re really trying to sell me something. And we instantly shut that out. Right? So as a generation, we understand that.

[00:19:21] Matthew Weiss: Um, I think an interesting point, and you talk a lot about, uh, you talk about your friend that has, you know, two kids going into the military. Um, is, is the, the role that parents play in the, the military recruiting crisis specifically, uh, and for, for all your veteran parents out there, uh, as they look at their children, as their children are now getting of that age where they’re starting to think of their own careers, maybe

[00:19:44] Matthew Weiss: Some of them are a little bit before that, but they’re certainly, maybe they’re entering high school and starting just maybe to get to that age as their Gen Z kids are maturing. Uh, so an interesting data point right, is um, That the number one indicator for [00:20:00] someone to join the military, what we call propensity.

[00:20:02] Matthew Weiss: Like all the academic studies, the propensity to join is having some close family relative that was a veteran or that served in the military. That’s the number one indicator. So it’s . Much so in many ways the military has in the all volunteer force time period, become very much like a family business.

[00:20:20] Matthew Weiss: Right. And there’s a lot of implications for that. One of the chapters talks about why we need to make sure it doesn’t ever just become a small family business, that it, you know, really becomes something that all types of people from all across the country join. Um, but one of the important things, and there was just a Wall Street Journal article released last week, is that a lot of parents who are veterans are now telling their kids not to join.

[00:20:41] Matthew Weiss: and what impact that has and why that’s occurring and how that’s deep in the crisis and how much of an issue that is. Um, and why we need to, again, really start talking about these issues about recruiting and how to make the military the best place possible for our Gen Z children. Um, because if you lose that group, right, you’re, you’re, [00:21:00] you’re finished, right?

[00:21:00] Matthew Weiss: If, if, if your viewers, if you’re veteran parents there, begin . Mass to feel that the military is not the best path for them, that it’s not gonna provide them that leadership, connectivity, future growth that it traditionally has, then, then, then, we’re finished. Then you lose the biggest group if possible.

[00:21:19] Matthew Weiss: Um, and so again, having these conversations with them and them, specifically speaking to them here right now, having those conversations with your Gen Z . See children about the good, the bad, the ugly, and also analyzing when the institution is going is crucial to being able to, to keep that core contingent, uh, still interested in or prop to join the military.

[00:21:40] Wendi Wray: Yeah. that, that’s a great point because especially if are as parents looking at the military in a way, based on our experience on how we experience military, you know, 10, 20 years before [00:22:00] your child even gets to even experience, then we’re also not helping because we don’t know how much the military has evolved now, and I know that it has even since I got out, and this is gonna be, I think five years now. What year are we in? 23, six years this year. It’s been five years that I got out it has changed a lot. From five years, five years ago. I mean, I, I couldn’t even tell you, you know, what the challenges were, but today the challenges are a little different. so that, know, um, like you mentioned too, the, um, I. the experiences and how to really communicate with our kids, especially if that’s something that they’re looking forward to or maybe they don’t know. I think it, um, one of the topics or the things that you mentioned, you know, they, they’re looking for mentorship, coaching, some guidance, know, linking them up with someone um, probably closer to their age that’s already [00:23:00] in the service, or, um, Connecting ’em with the recruiter that actually understands the Gen Z community. And you know, I, the great point that, or the biggest takeaway that I’m taking here is really being real honest and transparent with Gen Z. It’s just, I think the bottom line. And now question for you Matthew. Like what is your really goal? From not only sharing all your, um, insights and research that you’ve done on this book, but what’s ultimately your goal, you know, for the next coming years.

[00:23:38] Matthew Weiss: Yeah, it’s a, it’s a great question that, uh, that sometimes when I look at the, uh, the cost of actually writing a book, it’s, it, I laugh ’cause I’ll you, you, you’ll never make the money back. Right there. There’s, you’ll never turn a profit on this. Why did I do this? Um, no, I’ll, I’ll tell you specifically why.

[00:23:55] Matthew Weiss: Um, you know, as the recruiting crisis has deepened . [00:24:00] I’ve seen all, both sides of the aisle, both news types of news stations, uh, continuously have segments about these. Issues. And they’re usually sort of soundbitey segments and you know, one political side says, this is the reason. And one another political side says this is the reason.

[00:24:15] Matthew Weiss: Um, but every time on those panels on, on television, it’s always some very senior high ranking general or admiral or some war vet hero who again, have, have full respect for these, these are great established military service members. I’m, I’m not denigrating that, but they’re, they’re old. And they’re the ones talking about the recruiting crisis.

[00:24:35] Matthew Weiss: And I, I couldn’t understand. I was like, wait, those people legitimately were recruited . 20 to 30 years ago. Right. The world has drastically changed. They, they know very little about the current struggles and day-to-day of the generation. Like there’s no way that someone that old understands what my, again, younger brother in high school does every day on his Instagram or, or, you know, his social media [00:25:00] feed.

[00:25:00] Matthew Weiss: Like there’s a disconnect So I was looking at that and I, I basically said, this is this, you know, this. Change that we we’re all calling for, solving this recruiting crisis has to come from a voice on the ground, or it has to be analyzed at least by someone who’s literally in that Gen Z generation who just went through it.

[00:25:21] Matthew Weiss: So I, I felt that I was uniquely positioned at this short moment in my life and in time to be able to say, wait, I just was recruited. I am a member of Gen Z. I spent a little bit of time in the military. Now let me put all those things together and let’s have this conversation. So really my goal, truthfully, bottom

[00:25:41] Matthew Weiss: More than anything is to have this conversation as many times as possible with as many decision makers, veterans, current service members as possible to better our institution. I don’t claim to have all the right ideas. I, I joke in the book like, I hope half these ideas piss half the people off and half them piss the other half people off.

[00:25:57] Matthew Weiss: And everyone’s arguing positively over these [00:26:00] ideas like they’re written, you know, very much down the middle. And I hope people agree with half of them and disagree with half of them. Right. The point is, We need to have these conversations, but they need to be through the scope and lens of someone who actually understands Gen Z.

[00:26:12] Matthew Weiss: It can’t be some super senior ranking person in the Pentagon, even though that person will be the one that makes the ultimate decision. They’re not doing the ground analysis, right? The, the ground analysis, just like we say in the military, right? Distributed, um, uh, leadership, right? Um, that, that that’s the best way to do it, right?

[00:26:30] Matthew Weiss: The, the, the lands corporal, you know, on the front line knows best, right? Like in the end of the day, like we . I felt that I had to be the one to speak up these issues, and I want to have these conversations about this so,

[00:26:44] Wendi Wray: Yeah. No, that’s, that’s amazing because again, if we don’t talk about it or don’t get interest from the decision makers, then nothing’s gonna happen. Right. And again, going back to your generation, this is exactly [00:27:00] what been Um, not only through just social media platforms, but really just connecting and engaging with the younger community on, you know, it’s just to me on. The, the type of action that you guys are taking. And I think that that’s, it can be intimidating, um, you know, to the older community, right? For my generation. ’cause I’m like, well, this kid is only 14 years old. Why is he, you know, already so far ahead of age? Or, you know, 2021. Right? And it’s, it’s something that I think, um, we’re slowly but surely catching on this is just how You grew up into, right? Like this is you learned at a very young age. Like you said, you were one a one year old with an iPhone already doing FaceTime and social media as you’re growing up and, and you know, in school, happened. I mean, all of these [00:28:00] major world, um, changes that have been happening impacts, um, is really also impacting how you are evolving, right?

[00:28:07] Wendi Wray: And what you want. I mean, you guys are very honest with what you want. And not only that, but then you immediately take action. And I think that that’s very impressive being that, you know, um, we didn’t have these tools. Back in the day. then again, there were other challenges. And even now, right here are the challenges that we’re facing with recruiting, um, do we then, you know, foster a new environment or a new culture the military services?

[00:28:37] Wendi Wray: And, you know, this goes across the board, not just the Marines, not just the Air Force, not just the army, and not just for women, but just across the board, right? Like how do we then, a better culture for females in uniform, like you mentioned in chapter 18. you know, I love that. One of the, um, solutions, um, you mentioned here is to establish [00:29:00] the her initiative by honoring gender differences, eradicating sexual assault and relaxing female specific social constraints. Like that is on. And if you’d like to elaborate a little bit on, on that, feel free to do so. I think it’s just something that we need to. Really understand, and like you mentioned, it’s not just in the military, it’s also across the board, like even in corporate, right, really understanding and honoring the gender differences

[00:29:28] Matthew Weiss: yeah. So, so

[00:29:29] Matthew Weiss: chapter 18, I would, I would love to dive into super, uh, important key, one of the key chapters of the book . Um, it comes in the final section. So the last section of the book is sort of, um, how the military as a whole can give back to society, right. And, and how . Generation Z and all Americans are gonna look to the military about, you know, new value propositions in the 21st century.

[00:29:53] Matthew Weiss: Um, so before I begin, the necessary disclaimer, an important part right, is, is writing as, as [00:30:00] a male in the military, right? And, and males are the predominant, um, gender in the military, right? Uh, I needed a lot of female support and a lot of female insight. I spoke to a lot of my female, uh, lieutenant friends, a lot of, uh, en enlisted females and female veterans to understand their own unique journeys and struggles in the military.

[00:30:22] Matthew Weiss: Right. So in many ways, you know, here is sort of this outside voice opining on, you know, the place of women in the military. I understand the, my own biases and my own, you know, shortcomings when, when dealing with that. At the same time, I actually believe by sort of being outside of that and just observing unique struggles that females have in the military, uh, while not being a female myself, I also provide an interesting sort of lens to analyze it with.

[00:30:49] Matthew Weiss: Right. So one of the things, and I’ll go in specifically looking at. From a macro level is the single largest group, the single largest [00:31:00] group that the military can do a better job with recruiting from are females, right? They make up half the population. They make up close now to almost half the workforce numbers are of female participation in the larger American labor force, or increasing year over year.

[00:31:15] Matthew Weiss: Their college participation rates are surpassing that of males almost, almost . Across the board now, right? So the fact that the military is still an institution that’s predominantly male, so skewed in the male direction, um, that this is certainly the largest by number, uh, group of talent that the military should and can recruit from, uh, to increase its numbers and boost its numbers, right?

[00:31:41] Matthew Weiss: So that, that’s the first thing, right? Like female recruitment is huge, right? In terms of growth areas. This is, this is the way to go at the same time, not alienating, right. Traditional male military members. There, there, there’s, you know, one of the things that people are always wanting is like a simple solution that solves all problems.

[00:31:57] Matthew Weiss: Like every single one of these problems and issues [00:32:00] has two sides and two, two analysis that has to be taken to account. So I’m not calling for, you know, because the military today is 70% or 80% male and 20% female. It should be . 50% and 50%, or it should be, you know, 80% female and 20%. I’m, I’m not, I’m not saying that.

[00:32:15] Matthew Weiss: I’m just simply saying mil, the females are a massive group that can be and should be recruited from. And military needs to do a better job to appealing to females. Right. And so, again, I, I like to go back to the core to my family. I, I have a sister. Uh, extremely impressive, super athletic, smart, extremely successful.

[00:32:34] Matthew Weiss: Uh, and, and just analyzing her own Gen Z experience as a female and why the military wasn’t even a, a question for her, right. She didn’t even consider it, you know, and so just looking at her development in life and understanding, okay, why, you know, did she not even think about the military here? Right? And, and understanding that.

[00:32:51] Matthew Weiss: And so three things really came to mind. Um, and, and that’s the HER initiative. I, uh, you know, I. I don’t love using acronyms, but the [00:33:00] three things that I sort of talk about actually fit the H H E R pretty well. Uh, and so the first is honoring gender differences. So, so what I have to say about, about this one just looking is, you know, I. What’s the, the, the majority of group females and, and how are you going to appeal to, to that majority here? Right. And so there’s been a massive push in modern times, um, to, you know, the first female that has graduated infantry school, the first female that’s graduated special forces, right? And those are unbelievable achievements and super impressive.

[00:33:31] Matthew Weiss: And by, by all means, there will be more. . And continuous growth in that area. That being, and I, and I champion that and support that. That being said, the majority of females in the United States that you’re gonna recruit from are not looking to become infantry soldiers or marines or join special forces, that that’s just not their appeal.

[00:33:50] Matthew Weiss: That’s not the main driver for female joining the military. Right. Certainly a large group, a hundred percent potentially, but not the majority [00:34:00] of females. Right. And so we have to understand that, that there.

[00:34:03] Matthew Weiss: some different appeals between the, the large majority of males and the large majority of females.

[00:34:09] Matthew Weiss: Right? Um, and we have to accept that. So there’s all this fascination with that, like very small percentage that, uh, look special forces. But I think that’s the detriment of the larger majority of saying, Hey, listen, the military has a lot of different things it can offer. You know, don’t just think of it as running into buildings with rifles and, you know,

[00:34:30] Matthew Weiss: Becoming a special forces operator, right? That that’s really not. 99% of the military experience, and that’s not what should be pitched to young females across the country who are saying, Hey, this could be an interesting, you know, path for me. Uh, you know, we have to make sure that we’re not just focused on the, what I could call the, the super, uh, flashy headline or the super exciting part and.

[00:34:52] Matthew Weiss: You know, pitch the, the larger part. Okay. So what are some areas that females do better than men in or, or, or females are, are super inclined to go into it? How [00:35:00] can we pitch that? So that’s a gender difference that I think is important. Um, two is an obvious one, uh, but it, you know, particularly is bad in the military and it needs to be dealt with in an extremely important way.

[00:35:12] Matthew Weiss: We saw the horrible, uh, story of Vanessa Guillen, but the eradicating sexual assault, you know, is, is a no stop. You’re never gonna have . Parody female recruitment or, or get, you know, a, a, large increase in female recruitment if the military is viewed as a place that’s unsafe for our American females. That, that, that’s, that, that, that it’s, it’s unacceptable.

[00:35:35] Matthew Weiss: It’s, it’s a huge issue. It’s, It’s, um, Not even numbers themselves that are unfortunately in, in some reports are increasing, right? Which is, which is again, inexcusable bad perception. Even more so, the fact that if American parents don’t want their, their daughters going into military because of the potential for sexual assault or because it’s perceived as a place where [00:36:00] sexual assault happens, you’re, or, or, or, uh, sexual abuse happens.

[00:36:03] Matthew Weiss: You’re never going to be able to . Make massive dents with a large majority of female population. So again, super thorny, very difficult issue. A lot of potential proposed solutions for how to deal with it. I don’t have one, you know, we’re gonna do this and eradicate sexual assault, but to again, have this conversation of how important it is that we change the perception and the actual numbers, uh, to show that the military is a safe place for females.

[00:36:30] Matthew Weiss: And, you know, sexual assault numbers are decreasing and, and actually, you know, Successfully make numbers decrease. That is a huge, huge important, uh, thing. then the, the third is, um, relaxing female specific social constraints. So this one is a little more nuanced than goes into, you know, some of the tactics, right?

[00:36:48] Matthew Weiss: But, you know, military has very specific regulations on hair and tattoos and, uh, fingernail length and polish and, and some that are very specific to females. And this goes into [00:37:00] the broader discussion of, you know, standards and can we relax them? You know, appearance, standards and whatever. And, and this one, again, without giving a specific one that you know I’m talking about, it’s sort of just the general trend is the military needs to take a long, hard look in the mirror and understand with some of these appearance constraints or some of these specific, often gender specific constraints, is this benefiting the force or is this hurting the force?

[00:37:26] Matthew Weiss: Is this growing or is this. Uh, negating. Right. So, and, and that’s, uh, another area that has to really be reexamined. And, and we’ve seen some progress or we’ve seen some, some . Relaxing of certain, um, restrictions that didn’t have any actual combat effectiveness. Again, like I’m not calling for ions relax, uh, relaxations of, of standards that are directly tied to, to combat effectiveness and lethality of the force.

[00:37:52] Matthew Weiss: But there are on the edge definitely some of these older regulations just haven’t been looked at in many years. I think that, you know, with the right people sitting [00:38:00] down with the right minds, you could say, Hey, you know, we could probably change that. Which would probably increase our culture, which would probably get better people into our institution and that would probably make us more common, effective and lethal.

[00:38:11] Matthew Weiss: And so those are three. The way I couch that chapter, and obviously there’s specifics in the chapter, uh, but that’s how I sort of couch chapter 18. That’s specifically directed towards the military’s impact on females and the females impact on the military and how we can, uh, boost recruitment with, uh, females in US America.

[00:38:30] Wendi Wray: Yeah, no. Yeah. I, I love one that you created an acronym. Of course, it’s the right thing to do as military, right? That’s what we do all day. We create acronyms for everything to remember. And I think that this one, you know, is a good one. Yeah. I mean it. you mentioned, I mean, those are are 3.3 great points and I’m sure there are many more that we could, you know, think about. Um, and I just love how you, you know, really started and kicked off with, you know, acknowledging that you did reach out to other, [00:39:00] you know, female veteran friends or even, um, anyone that you went to, to school, in your unit. And it really just helps understand, you know, where we’re going, right?

[00:39:11] Wendi Wray: Where. Where we want to go and how we need everything else to be looked at, updated, because it’s, it’s the truth. Like a lot of, a lot of women and I’m, you know, speaking for myself here, we kind of lose that sense of identity because we’re so, um, focused on. Trying to look like everyone else. And I’m not saying that it takes away from your feminism or anything of like that sort, but what I’m saying is that as we are then thinking about the transition, we then forget that it’s not just. The uniform, right? We forget that there’s other things that come into play, right? Like we’re gonna have to you know, um, identify in a, in a different way, like in [00:40:00] a, um, um, physically right now we actually are able to wear our hair however we want.

[00:40:06] Wendi Wray: We can actually get our nails done. Now we can actually wear makeup, and how are we gonna do that? So, like, that’s a whole nother, you know, identity, transition that we’re going through. In this at the same time figuring out exactly, you know, how we’re going to show up, right? We don’t want to show up, um, you know, and, and become like person that just wants to take control, right?

[00:40:30] Wendi Wray: Because that’s the, that’s what they tell us in the military. When you’re in control, take control. When you’re in charge, take charge. And so how are we, you know, doing that transitioning? Into that civilian sector in that way. Right. So it’s kinda like a, an identity shift that at least I noticed for me, understanding that, okay, now I can let my hair down, meaning my personality can come out too. And also I can just be me. Right? Like really just allowing myself to be this caring, [00:41:00] this emotional human being that I am without having any, um, you know, consequences or being You know, judge in a different way. And so I think that that’s, um, really, you know, um, very important, you know, honoring gender differences, right? Everyone doesn’t have to act the same, doesn’t have to look the same at every single point in time. Like you mentioned. Of course there’s going to be regulations and, um, Standards that we need to meet for certain things, but not everything. And so I do appreciate you, you know, talking about that. And, and Matthew, I think, I mean, every chapter, as you mentioned, the three parts are, are very interesting.

[00:41:38] Wendi Wray: I cannot wait for this to drop because I’m definitely getting me a copy and really learning more too on. this is evolving and really, like you said, your goal, know, getting this in front of the decision makers and making sure that we are continuing recruit leaders, because that’s really one of the reasons why I continue to support the military [00:42:00] because one, it’s, it it’s not only a privilege to serve, but also to continue with our freedom.

[00:42:08] Wendi Wray: Right? And we’re the ones that continue. To, to serve. And is something that I, I know a lot of us, um, take near and dear to the heart because we want more people to serve, especially Gen Z, especially the younger community. And even, you know, as, as more as we as evolve and grow, we want that recruiting to continue.

[00:42:34] Matthew Weiss: A Absolutely, and I think you know, an important point is . Again, to, to, and this is really the mission, is to be able to have these very challenging, sometimes uncomfortable, sometimes painful conversations around all of these issues in the goal and in in the same vein of, of actually improving the institution, right?

[00:42:59] Matthew Weiss: So people ask, [00:43:00] a lot of people have been asking, you know, so, so what’s your view? Are, are, are we finished? Are we in trouble?

[00:43:03] Matthew Weiss: Right?

[00:43:04] Matthew Weiss: And I say, no,

[00:43:05] Matthew Weiss: I’m actually pretty cautiously optimistic. About our military, about our country’s future. Um, but I definitely think that there is certainly

[00:43:15] Matthew Weiss: a, um, . Issue here, right?

[00:43:18] Matthew Weiss: Like there, there is a recruiting crisis that if we don’t do anything and we just say, oh, whatever, we’re going to start to face, um, staggeringly low numbers. And, and, and we, you know, that’s bad for, for everyone. We don’t have to go into what that really means. Forced posture around,

[00:43:33] Matthew Weiss: around, um, the world. So, So what I’m calling for, right again, is have these really tough, difficult conversations, right?

[00:43:40] Matthew Weiss: There’s, there’s so much fear now of saying the wrong thing and this whole, I’m gonna be canceled, or I’m gonna say something that bothers this political party or that political party. And that’s, that’s really in this chapter

[00:43:51] Matthew Weiss: about sort of keeping politics out of the military. That that can’t be the way for, we have to be able to have these painful, uncomfortable, difficult conversations.

[00:43:59] Matthew Weiss: Right? It, [00:44:00] it is hard, right? As a, as a. You know, as, as a male, to have some of these female specific conversations, right? Because I, I don’t know the things, but yet I’m not afraid to sit down, have conversations, offer my perspective, hear other perspective, um, and, and, and grow towards a, a better, more holistic solution for all of us.

[00:44:19] Matthew Weiss: And that goes for female conversations. That goes for. Other conversations, different groups, different ideas, politics, you name it. Whatever the social issue or cultural issue or political issue is, we need to get back to a point where we’re comfortable having these difficult conversations

[00:44:36] Matthew Weiss: that actually push us towards finding real solutions to better our institution, right?

[00:44:42] Matthew Weiss: Because I do believe our institution is . The best in the world, obviously the best military in the world, but one of the best institutions we have in the for a multitude of reasons. I think that if we continue to progress it, continue to grow it, we’re not afraid we can continue to make it a place that Gen Z [00:45:00] wants to be in, and we can continue to make it a place that gives all the values and benefits that’s historically given the country and the people that have joined it specifically.

[00:45:08] Matthew Weiss: Right. A lot of veterans will say it’s the best thing they ever did in their lives. Right. And I. If we have these conversations now and push there, there will be a time, hopefully in five, 10 years where Gen Z is really excited to join the military. We don’t have a recruiting crisis. We have a recruiting surge.

[00:45:24] Matthew Weiss: You know, I always say like, you know, think of the most popular companies in the world that you know have . Such high recruiting standards, they have to turn applicants away. Like, you know, there was a point in time when Google, you know, was accepting like 1% of applicants how many people wanted to work there, right?

[00:45:40] Matthew Weiss: Well, can we, can we ever get to that level? May, maybe not, but can we get to the point where the military is so desired that everyone’s talking about potentially joining it? It’s on everyone’s mind,

[00:45:49] Matthew Weiss: you know, at least. Their potential career options, and then it gets filtered down to the best people possible actually joining the institution.

[00:45:56] Matthew Weiss: Right? I’m not calling for you, everyone joining the institution. We don’t necessarily [00:46:00] have to grow size, we have to be able to maintain our size and, and get the best people possible. So it starts with having these conversations, being able to talk about them not being afraid, um, and, and, and having, you know, mutual understanding that we’re all trying to work towards a better solution to, to make this really an appealing place for Generation Z.

[00:46:24] Wendi Wray: Yeah, no, I agree. And you hit spot on, on making it desirable. I think that that’s something that we really need to work because it, it’s, it’s a great, it, it really has been the best experience of my life and, um, that’s something that no one could ever take away from me. You know, that experience, that leadership opportunity, and it really just makes Huge, a huge difference when you know I’m working, you know, in corporate or when I am just really in any other, um, [00:47:00] organization, right? People know that I’m a veteran and they know because of how I show up and they know that that’s something that I. You know, yes, it was an obligation or responsibility, but ultimately it was my commitment.

[00:47:14] Wendi Wray: And that’s really, you know, loyalty, service, all of that. We continue to sprinkle, you know, along the way, along our journey. And so I think it’s, to everyone, even if, you know, unfortunately you didn’t have the best experience, or maybe you didn’t, it didn’t turn out the way you wanted it to turn out.

[00:47:32] Wendi Wray: Right? Some, some of us, um, get out willingly and some of us are told to leave because of a medical situation, whatever it may be, and some of you may be retired we know that. Most of the time we were in, yes, it was, it was hard, challenging moments, I think we learned the most, but at the end of the day, it will be always like the best experience. Um, and really the, the more that we can continue to serve in a way where we’re talking about [00:48:00] this, sharing this information. Reading about it, talking about it with their kids or our family’s kids, because that’s another thing. I had a conversation with one of my friend’s, um, uh, child regarding the military.

[00:48:13] Wendi Wray: You know, she’s not a veteran. Father’s not a veteran, but I’m a veteran. And so again, having those conversations and, and being okay with sharing your experience, um, positive or negative. be in, in a helpful way to, to help shape our, not only, um, our recruiting, um, process, but also the leaders that are, are to come.

[00:48:39] Matthew Weiss: Absolutely a hundred percent agree with everything you said. Uh, and, and I think especially us veterans, right? Especially I, I’m not a veteran yet, I’m still active, right. But especially veterans and especially those active, we care about the institution. And because we care. We have a duty to it. We wanna see it succeed.

[00:48:58] Matthew Weiss: We wanna see it [00:49:00] grow, right? We, we, we want it to be the place. That again, gen Z wants to join, right? We want it to be a successful, thriving organization that isn’t, you know, struggling. Right. The, the Army last year, right. 15,000 people short of its recruiting goal. That’s a division and a half roughly of si.

[00:49:18] Matthew Weiss: That’s huge. Right? This is seriously dangerous numbers. it’s predicted this year that the Army, the Navy, and the Air Force will all miss their recruiting goals by thousands of people, right? And, and . That’s a sad state of affairs. We don’t want that to be like that. Right. You know, gone are the days, you know, back in the, you know, the draft in World War ii, but there was a time in World War II where people were furious if they were unable to join the military.

[00:49:42] Matthew Weiss: Right. Going so far as, you know, some crazy things if, if couldn’t be allowed, given the opportunity to serve. And unfortunately now that’s not the case. Um, there’s a great quote, you know, . You join the military, you give up rights and privilege privileges to take on duties and [00:50:00] responsibilities. Um, giving up rights and privileges.

[00:50:03] Matthew Weiss: Yeah, to take on duties and responsibilities, uh, which is something that, is an amazing honor, an amazing, amazing ability to have an organization that let’s you. Go through that ’cause it’s such an important life learning lesson. Um, but again, all of us do care and I think that together, if we have these conversations, we push them up to the right people and we discuss and we discuss them with all those at the top and all those at the bottom, meaning all those 18 year olds in high school, um, we can, we can the generation positively towards service.

[00:50:36] Matthew Weiss: So yeah. Thanks so much. I appreciate this. This was a really awesome, really great discussion. you having me.

[00:50:46] Wendi Wray: Absolutely. Thank you so much. I know you and I could probably talk like the whole day. There’s like a total, I believe of like 21 chapters and we literally only hit on

[00:50:55] Wendi Wray: two. And so I highly

[00:50:58] Wendi Wray: tuning in, I’m telling you these [00:51:00] topics, um, are a very interesting and I wanna invite you to purchase Matthew’s book.

[00:51:07] Wendi Wray: It’s coming out August 11th. This. Episode is actually gonna publish, um, the Wednesday after that. I believe it’s the 16th. So you’ll, when you listen to this episode, you’ll be able to go purchase your copy and Matthew can you share with us, and it’ll also be in the show notes where they can find a copy of this book.

[00:51:26] Matthew Weiss: Uh, absolutely. So, so the book website is www dot uh, uncle sam Um, and if you click on the website, it takes you to an Amazon page or you can just type in, we don’t want you Uncle Sam by Matthew Weiss and Amazon. It’s a regular Amazon book by, um, so either of those two ways, Amazon or, or the book site to then link to Amazon.

[00:51:50] Matthew Weiss: That’s, the way to get it, uh, Kindle, uh, Kindle and, and print and, uh, would love for, for this to be shared with as many people as possible. So we continue to have [00:52:00] these conversations and, uh, hear some of these ideas.

[00:52:07] Wendi Wray: Absolutely. Thank you Matthew again, and please go follow him on social media as well. As I mentioned, everything will be in the show notes, so I really hope that you get the copy and that you share this, especially if you’re a recruiter or you have children that are thinking about the military. Alright, ladies, I hope that this episode not only encourages you to continue to share your story, but also to encourage others to continue with the mission. All right, have a beautiful rest of your week. Talk to you soon. Bye.