Disrespecting Millennials is Disrespecting Active Duty Military

Walter Rhein



When I was growing up, the message was clear. “Generation X is a bunch of entitled, lazy, hoodlums that will never amount to anything.” You’d hear it in casual conversation, on TV, and in news stories. The sentiment became so prevalent that you were looked at as a lunatic if you dared to contradict the belief. I got sick of it, and I’m still resentful for having had to listen to it.

Then I grew up, and a new group came along, but the song remained the same. Now it’s Millennials that are constantly and casually bashed in public, in the media, on Facebook, etc.

Generational bashing is nothing new, but personally I find it to be repugnant behavior. It’s bullying, and the members of the media in positions of power that allow this nasty talk to continue are always from a previous generation. It’s hypocritical to witness because this is the same media that will attack people accused of bullying with a vengeance. It’s like watching Matt Lauer do a segment condemning sexual harassment in the workplace. The media publicly destroys lives, all while engaging in the exact same behavior they claim to fight against.

The US is a society that pretends to respect and honor their military. I say “pretends” because when it comes to things like actually paying the military during a government shut-down there is no criticism when congress fails to pass legislation to get them their salary (congress gets paid by the way…they can agree on things like that). However, if an NFL player kneels during the national anthem, everyone gets up in arms about how much they love the military. It is rightful that people honor and respect the military. These are people who put themselves in harm’s way for the benefit of the nation. It should also be noted that the majority of active duty military members are Millennials (verify it for yourself).

This is nothing new, when Baby Boomers were bashing Generation X, Generation X was the majority of the active duty military. When the Greatest Generation was bashing the Baby Boomers, the Baby Boomers were the active duty military.

So what I don’t understand is this: if the US likes to claim to “honor and respect their military” then how can publications run so many articles that bash a whole generation that happens to make up the majority of active duty military? Let me be clear, there are no qualifiers in these generation bashing articles. They never say “Some Millennials are entitled” they are always titled “What’s Wrong with Millennials?” How would you like to be a Millennial serving in the military, stationed abroad, not coming home for Christmas, risking your life every day, and you have to read something like:

“The self-entitlement that many Millennials carry around with them is exceedingly strong. Maybe it is because some of their parents (Generation X) spoon fed them as teens, and gave them things to keep them from whining as children. Maybe it is because of technology around today, and the more recent phenomenon that technology brings being instant gratification. Maybe it is the media. I see this on an everyday basis. It is pitiful.”–Jordan Helms, What Is Wrong With the Millennial Generation?

If we really respected the military, shouldn’t we ensure that the majority of our active duty military are spared from reading such sweeping, unfair, unfounded criticisms? What happened to the golden rule? How about saying something nice about Millennials every now and then? The vast majority of them are hardworking, patriotic, intelligent, good people and they will be taking over the world. Also, it will be up to them to fix all the problems I might add. They didn’t cause the mess we’re in, they’re just the ones that are going to be stuck with it. So be nice to Millennials, they’re going to be cleaning up after you.

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Walter Rhein is an author with Perseid Press. He also does a weekly column for The Writing Cooperative on Medium.

Chippewa Falls, WI

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