The Path Forward
The military is far more than a job. It has a deeply powerful influence on America’s identity, culture, and wellbeing. But it also is a massive system with a deep history, and like any such space, there is room to grow.
On July 15, 2020, the Department of Defense Board on Diversity and Inclusion provided recommendations to improve the improve the military’s diversity and inclusion and broaden equal opportunity for all members of the Armed Forces. While some of those recommendations are tremendously weak (“Recommendation 1: Update Recruiting Content to Represent All Service Members.“) some of these provide a good direction for how the military can ensure that it does not propagate systems of inequality and that it can in fact push against these
👨👨👦👦 Break up the family pipeline - Pentagon data show that 80% of recent troops come from at least one family member has also worn their nation’s uniform. This number has been largely consistent over the last decade. In America, your parent’s life choices are highly indicative of your future outcomes. If the military continues to recruit from the same families and the same homes, then the organization will struggle to become more diverse and will struggle to create different paths of opportunities for Americans.
🎖 Improve opportunity within the military - The military has 11x more White officers than senior officers of color. If so many Americans are joining the military becomes of the opportunity it provides afterwards, the military needs to stop keeping communities out of opportunity even during their times of services. The rank that you leave the military with can equate to hundreds of thousands of dollars difference over a lifetime in possible earnings.
🚀 Reallocate military funding towards opportunity - What if we took that $4 billion spent on military recruitment and spent it elsewhere? What if Americans didn’t have to put their lives on the line to go to college? The cost of 34 B-2 fighter jets could completely pay for tuition free college for all Americans. Taking just 1 in 10 dollars from the DoD’s budget would do the same. While decreasing the size of the military budget has rarely been a politically favorable thing to do (and also important to note that Democratic presidents presided over 4 of the 5 big military build-ups in the 20th century), improving opportunity may be the reframe that shifts the winds.