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I happened to fall into conversation with a young veterans’ organization member, who turned out to also be eligible for the veteran’s organization to which I belong, due to service in Korea. My outfit needs more fresh blood, so I had an ulterior motive to sit and listen, just prompting him for more of his thoughts. It was a treat to hear a well-spoken young man’s perspective on his own life, work, and service. The trick, really the pleasant surprise, was to then find an amazing breadth and depth to this fellow veteran, who I took from the conversation to be in his mid-20s.
That places him on the cusp between Millennials and Gen-Z. Folks, he was none of the negative stereotypes routinely riffed about his age cohort. He started on active duty, then (fairly recently) transitioned to a reserve component. He was highly focused on leveraging the mutually reinforcing training, certifications, and experience of his civilian and military careers. He had mapped out paths of advancement in both, taking advantage of the commonality in the two technical occupations. Oh, and he had not even needed college to get on this path, but already had thought through the evening/weekend/online schooling that would punch his ticket to the top of his chosen field in both the military and civilian life.