ARLINGTON, Va. (March 12, 2015) – Total Force Army 2025 must plan for the new challenges of the future technologically savvy Generation Z recruits, said Anthony J. Stamilio, Army deputy assistant secretary for manpower and Reserve affairs (civilian personnel/quality of life).
Stamilio led a panel discussion, March 10, on “Soldier and Family Services – Building Resiliency and Self-Reliance,” before an audience of military, government and industry professionals during the Association of the U.S. Army’s Installation Management Forum.
Other panelists included Army Brig. Gen. Dennis Doyle, deputy chief of staff for operations, Army Medical Command; Stephanie Hoehne, deputy chief of staff for family and morale welfare and recreation programs, Installation Management Command; Carla K. Coulson, director of installation services, Army Office of the Assistant Chief of Staff for Installation Management; Sharyn J. Saunders, director at Army Ready and Resilient Campaign headquarters; retired Army Maj. Gen. Mark A. Graham, senior director of military/veteran support services and Rutgers National Call Center, Rutgers University Behavioral Health Care; and Dr. Jonathan N. Metzler, performance psychology research and development lead for Science Applications International Corp.
“As we think about Army Force 2025, we must think about designing installations and services for the [Generation Z] force and their Families,” Stamilio said.
The up-and-coming Generation Z population now ranges in age from 3 to 17 years. Expected to include about 23 million people, he said, 200,000 of them are expected to join the military.
“They will start entering the [recruiting] pool in 2018,” Stamilio said. And the Army must consider how it will integrate them with the three existing generations of Soldiers.
“[Generation Z] will have global and broader perspectives because of technology and social media. We must take that into consideration,” he said.
Because Generation Z will be more immersed in technology than previous generations, it is expected that broad bases of regional and virtual friends will shape their opinions, Stamilio said. And it is those peers who will help shape their opinions, he said.
With such peer influence, Generation Zeros could experience a lesser “sense of place” in the Army than older soldiers, Stamilio said.
“We will have to make sure they’re engaged with the institution and have the same type of commitment we have,” he said.
The Army also will be challenged with the up-and-coming generation to strengthen its community relationships on local and global scales, Stamilio said.
“Family characteristics will [also] change at an increasingly rapid pace,” he said. “It is up to us to be open to, and accommodate, those changes.”
And the role of Generation Z service women will likely become “significantly different and probably more prominent” than today, Stamilio said.
The Army’s 2025 program calls for putting its Soldiers and Families in “better places” for wellness and health-issue prevention, Doyle said.
“If we get people instilled in healthier habits today, they will remain healthy longer,” he said.
“Our goal is to inform, educate and build healthy communities where our soldiers, veterans, families and civilians can improve their health,” Doyle said.
Planning for the future changing generational demands – and of Soldiers’ and Families’ readiness posture is critical, Hoehne said.
“We have to look at what we provide as demands change,” she said. “And how do we make sure that what we offer is what they want – such as 24-hour gyms.”
While Army Morale, Welfare, and Recreation, also known as MWR, programs always have been considered the homes and communities for its Soldiers, the principle on which MWR operates is “being aware of its customer base,” Hoehne said.
The ability of MWR to be ready to adapt and build agility into the system is critical, she said.
“[Even] now as we identify issues,” Hoehne said, “we’re implementing [changes]. We are not waiting.”
The Army environment and personal readiness is a performance triad of getting enough sleep, activities and good nutrition, said Doyle, adding the Army surgeon general has long pursued those goals.
And while physical readiness is a part of donning the Army uniform, Soldiers must commit to routinely staying active, he said.
“The 2025 plan goes beyond [that timeframe], and I don’t want to see you in one of my hospitals,” he said. “I want to see you out on the track, bike path, walking and doing things that keep you healthy.”