Generation Y


(DOD photo)

Depending on who you ask, the new generation of twenty- or thirty-somethings – also known as Generation Y, Millennials, Echo Boomers, or the Boomerang/Peter Pan Generation (because they return home to live with parents) – have certain character traits.

If you are a boomer, here is how you see them (condensed from “10 characteristics of Generation Me” by Gary Schlee, based on a book by Kathleen Shaputis):

Direct to the point of being rude
Lacking self-esteem
Sense of entitlement
Thin skinned
Professional students (living at home)

If you are in Generation Y, you see yourself this way (from “Generation Y” by Sally Kane):

Attention-Craving (wanting feedback, guidance, mentoring)

See a difference in tone? Perspectives change over time, and those of us who are longer in the tooth tend to look disapprovingly of the next big wave of Americans coming of age. Just like the older generation looked at us.

I am no social scientist, but I work with Generation Y veterans. I have visited hundreds – maybe thousands – of them in war zones and in military hospitals. Those visits have changed my opinions dramatically.

Because what I see in the eyes of our wounded troops is defiance. They can assess their injuries, acknowledge their new realities, then renew their commitment to serve. They want to keep going. Self-entitled? I think not. Achievement oriented? Absolutely.

I don’t know how many times I have talked to our wounded warriors. But I do know how many times I walked away feeling humble and inspired.

Every single time.

This generation has moxie. Its inhabitants want to make something of themselves, to make the world a better place. And to do it together.

It has been said before, and I will repeat it here. This generation – especially those who have served in the armed forces – is our next Greatest Generation.

Just wait and see.


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