The US Military is facing a major recruiting issue in attracting qualified candidates from Generation Z. Often confused with millennials, Gen Z, or ‘zoomers,’ refers to anyone born between 1997 and 2012, and the military has been unable to attract enough of them to meet enlistment goals. 

Devil dog ‘Zoomer’ Matthew Weiss has set out to solve that recruiting crisis through in a new book, “We Don’t Want You, Uncle Sam.” He has his work cut out for him: For FY 2024, the U.S. Army and Air Force are both predicting a shortage of 10,000 recruits, while the U.S. Navy predicts a shortfall of 6,000 recruits, and the Space Force and Marine Corps both expect to meet their recruiting goals.

The 25-year-old 2nd Lt., a Military Intelligence Officer in the Marine Corps, currently works in the signals intelligence and electronic warfare field but uses his life experience before becoming a Marine to inform his take on how recruiting efforts could address potential Gen Z recruits better.  

Prior to joining, Weiss attended The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania to earn his B.S. in Finance and Management and the Wharton MBA program to major in Information Systems. He then worked for Anduril Industries, a top competitor in the defense tech world. 

Weiss gleaned valuable insight into how Anduril Industries managed to recruit top Gen Z candidates. He took those experiences and infused that knowledge into his book, calling for a culture shift and new tactics to transform the military into a serious competitor in today’s work environment. 

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Over the course of 21 chapters, Weiss unpacks his approach to solving the military’s recruiting issues, highlighting the challenges and recommending a fix for each. Some of his recommendations break from the more traditional aspects of military life, like introducing performance pay as a bonus to incentivize better performance, lowering the drinking age to 18, and regulating marijuana use in line with current regulations on alcohol, among other recommended solutions. 

Weiss also wants to improve recruitment efforts directed at female candidates. He breaks his recommendation down under the acronym HER: honoring gender differences, eradicating sexual assault, and relaxing female-specific social constraints. 

Weiss hopes his ideas throughout the book will better align the military with Gen Z’er expectations and ideals. Time will tell if military leadership embraces those ideas.

“We Don’t Want You, Uncle Sam: Examining the Military Recruiting Crisis with Generation Z” is available in paperback and on Amazon Kindle.

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