According to Stress in America, a study commissioned by the American Psychological Association, Millennials are the most stressed demographic. This not only impacts our military and Veteran populations, but every community across America – yes, even Edmonds. Real change is required.
The study goes on to state, “While Millennials (ages 18 to 33) and Gen Xers (ages 34 to 47) report the highest average stress levels, Boomers (48 to 66) and Matures (67 years and older) join them in reporting levels that are higher than they consider healthy. Stress has also increased for a considerable number of Americans, regardless of age.”
And guess who is responsible? The Baby Boomers. Yep, I said it. I called out the white elephant. Now before I get lynched, let me explain.
It’s all about the money – or lack thereof – and the Boomers are responsible for teaching and implementing the “I’ve got mine and we’ll figure out how to get yours later” attitude. Surveys show that money tops the list of stress sources (76 percent of respondents identified it as a problem), followed by work (70 percent) and the economy (65 percent).
Under Boomer leadership, whether at home or in government, Gen Xers were the first generation to be left “worse off” than the previous generation – and the cycle continues.
And kids feel their parents’ stress. According to Sue Shellenbarger with The Wall Street Journal, “Most parents — 69 percent — say that their stress doesn’t affect their children. But the kids disagree: 91 percent of 8- to 17-year-olds said they can tell when their parents are stressed out, and many ‘feel sad, worried, and frustrated as a result.’”
Arianna Huffington (I’m working on being fair and balanced) even chimed in and stated, “It’s reasonable to assume that higher levels of stress put the Millennials at higher risk for all sorts of destructive downstream consequences, from diabetes and obesity to anxiety and depression. Not surprisingly, work is one of the biggest causes of stress. The job numbers are grim, and even those lucky Millennials that land a decent job often face a workplace rife with destructive definitions of success.”
And then there is Sequestration. Those impacts are not going to be pretty. Take Fort Drum – WWNY News reported that thousands of civilians will likely experience furlough – I can tell you that Fort Drum’s training budget is 25% less than it was the month before, some brigades will deploy without a training rotation (not good – this is when body bags fill up) and the installation could see a military force reduction of up to 8000 troops…and this won’t be unique to Fort Drum.
So, aside from assigning blame, which doesn’t solve anything and just creates a good headline and a defensive environment (forgive me Baby Boomers), what are we to do?
We need to think outside the box.
Some have taken that to new levels like committing a crime…because at least they’ll be able to collect unemployment.
I’m not suggesting we follow or encourage that channel of thought.
What I’m suggesting is that we first understand that “business as usual” has gotten us to where we are today and we need to change. That is step one.
Step two…and Bottom line: we need to truly understand what the economic drivers are for our city and what future ones we need to embrace. We need to attract new business and talent into our city that will support the economic drivers. We need to reshape programs and policies so that we see an ROI – and we need to engage the next generation…new thought leaders…and encourage input.
We have incredible leaders cycling out of our military – many are proven, disciplined, understand hard work, have little regard for politics but understandcompleting a mission successfully, and know that team work is vital. What are you doing to attract this talent to your business, church, organization…or city?
Michael Schindler, Navy veteran, and president of Edmonds-based Operation Military Family, is a guest writer for several national publications, author of the book “Operation Military Family” and “The Military Wire” blog. He is also a popular keynote and workshop speaker who reaches thousands of service members and their families every year through workshops and seminars that include “How to Battle-Ready Your Relationship” or “What Your Mother-in-Law Didn’t Tell You.” He received the 2010 Outstanding Patriotic Service Award from the Washington State Department of Veterans Affairs.