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Looking past the institution

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Growing up in a family full of veterans from all branches of the military, I have always had a patriotic outlook and an appreciation for the U.S. military. However, I am learning of the difference between hearing stories from older generations in the family about their boot camp and war experiences and actually watching my cousin go through Marine boot camp and entering the reserves during an uncertain and hostile political world climate.

Even with my family background, it is easy to be comfortable in my civilian life and share common millennial opinions and express distaste for war and the consequences that follow. Despite my feelings toward war, how can I keep from feeling a huge sense of pride when someone I love and grew up with decides that protecting our freedom is something they feel so strongly about that they sacrifice their time and safety to be apart of something that only .08 percent of the U.S. population has?

According to the Hoover Institution, “millennials are liable to under appreciate the positive contributions of some service members, misattribute blame for failures to others, and, overall, fundamentally misconceive the nature of the military and its relationship with civilian policymakers and civil society” due to a lack of knowledge about military structure and culture. While we millennial civilians may not have a deep appreciation or understanding of the military institution, we can still make an effort to support the men and women who see the bigger picture and contribute to a part of our country dating back to 1775.

I urge you to dedicate some portion of your time to thank an Armed Forces veteran, active duty soldier, or enlistee beginning bootcamp whether it is through a simple handshake and thanks, participating in a care package program, or sending a letter to a loved one or a familly friend in boot camp – regardless of how you feel about war.

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