Image credit: DVIDS / U.S. Department of Defense

April 04, 2023

The Unsung Hero of Social Mobility

By Tobias Switzer

While politicos and pundits debate the state of social and economic mobility in America, one overlooked organization is doing heroic work to lift its more than 2 million workers into the middle class and promote human flourishing. Hiring most of its employees right out of high school, this organization provides extensive skills training, college and graduate school tuition subsidies, complete health care and dental benefits, defined contribution and benefit retirement plans, and high wages. Additionally, it offers its workers world-class development in non-cognitive skills such as conscientiousness, perseverance, and teamwork. Its employees are among the best at problem-solving and performing under pressure, and society greatly respects their contributions. This company goes by many names, but most know it as the United States military.

Politicians and policymakers serious about creating opportunities for young Americans can focus on preserving and protecting military service as part of a broader mobility policy.

Few companies or educational institutions in America can compete with this institution’s catalytic effect on upward mobility. As the employer of 1.4 million full-time service members and another 800,000 part-time, the armed forces should be recognized nationally as a dynamic institution increasing access to the American Dreams. Despite the benefits of the military for young adults, the U.S. Army fell short of its hiring goal by 25 percent, or almost 15,000 soldiers, in 2022, and the other services barely met their needs for recruits. Concerns that new military members are increasingly from military and veteran families and concentrated in the South, the Southwest, rural areas, and the regions surrounding military bases suggest the military’s recruitment efforts are missing eligible young men and women across the nation who could benefit the most from the social and economic opportunities offered by military service. Policymakers and policy influencers interested in accelerating the upward mobility of young Americans can make a positive impact by understanding how the military can benefit disadvantaged youth and determining ways to extend those opportunities to a broader audience.

Read the full article from Profectus.

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