In 2012, 39.4 percent of all the enlisted individuals in the military were under the age of 25. The millennial generation has flocked to the military in recent years and for good reason. With an extremely difficult job market, alongside the ever-present threat of foreign enemies, this generation has not been lacking in motivation to join the armed services. The government benefits alone are incentive enough.

Here are four reasons why we believe the millennials have decided to abandon the job market in favor of military service.

1. The Economy

Perhaps the most obvious reason for millennials flocking to the military is the lack of options in the current job market. Many individuals that decide to pursue a starting career via the military have finished school beforehand. In the Air Force alone, 28 percent of the enlisted men and women have attained their bachelor’s degrees. With an economy that is already flooded with college graduates, there just aren’t enough options to start a career right after graduation. For the jobs that are available, years of experience are typically required for even entry-level jobs, creating a catch-22 where job experience is needed before being considered for the most basic of occupations.

2. Patriotic Duty

Millennial Magazine - female army soldier

The millennial generation was at its most impressionable age when the attack on the World Trade Center occurred in 2001. This not only prompted the desire for retaliation, but for a heightened sense of the need to protect one’s country. For many, the idea of defending their country and loved ones is more than enough reason to put themself in harms way. Army Intelligence SPC Lance Prins is one such individual. “After I graduated I wanted to serve my country and start a new adventure while I still had the time,” Prins tells MiLLENNiAL. “Plus, I didn’t have any significant professional experience coming right out of school. 9/11 was a huge incentive for people our age to join. It had such a big impact on our generation as a whole,” he notes.

3. To Grow Up

With an age requirement of 18, the military is often an enticing option for new high school graduates. It can provide a sense of adventure, while also allowing young adults to truly discover themselves. Military service can provide a true coming-of-age experience that few career paths can offer. World traveling, camaraderie, and a sense of importance in their deeds can often sway the decisions of many millennials. The ability to be a part of something that accomplishes significant goals, while providing invaluable experience and learning opportunities is not only good, but something that is highly desired.

4. A Last Resort

Finally, the military can be an option for people who have no other options left. Plenty of young people have struggled in school, had very few or no job prospects at all, and still need to provide for themselves or their families.

Millennial Magazine - military benefits

The armed forces can offer decent pay, free health care, and a place to live. Great retirement benefits are also available for those with military careers lasting longer than the 20-year service requirement. For someone who has very few options, all of these look like an extremely good path to take.

Despite the unknown danger of an active-duty military career, the millennial generation has taken up arms for plenty of reasons. These four motivations highlight only a few key points. Each person has their own motivation for the path they choose. There will always be downsides to both military and work force related careers. But for millennials, sometimes the risk is worth the reward.

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Andrew Terpstra


Grand Rapids, MI

Andrew would would rather spend time in -20 degree weather than 97, but he can still write from anywhere. All he wants to do is tell the stories of people who would normally never be talked about. Everyone is important.

All posts by Andrew Terpstra

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