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The Military’s Recruiting Crisis Will Continue Until Its Woke Messages Stop

Pentagon officials should consider what happens when an organization alienates its core constituency. Exhibit A: the Walt Disney Company.


Severe recruiting shortages in all branches of the service are too serious to ignore. Enlisted bonuses as high as $50,000 have not helped much. And the Army has met only 40 percent of its 2022 goal, so it reduced end strength by 22,000 soldiers.

Traditional, patriotic families are the prime “market” for military recruiting. Pentagon officials and professional marketers, therefore, should objectively consider whether woke Defense Department policies have alienated that core constituency.

Start with President Joe Biden’s Inauguration Day executive order prohibiting discrimination based on gender identity and sexual orientation. The order specifically opened doors for transgender men who want “access to the restroom, the locker room, or school sports” reserved for women.

Under a DoD Instruction, all military personnel must embrace the notion that gender is “assigned at birth,” even though human DNA and chromosomes in every cell determine biological sex long before birth. Doctors, nurses, and chaplains must provide or support controversial treatments for gender dysphoria, including life-long hormones or irreversible surgeries, regardless of their own medical ethics or religious convictions.

Reality-denying groupthink also politicizes pronouns. A Navy video demonstrates ways to address transgenders, and anyone “misusing” designated pronouns could be punished for harassment.

Pride Month Events and Parental Alienation

President Biden’s obsequious Proclamation on Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, and Intersex (LGBTQI+) Pride Month sparked numerous displays of LGBT activism, including a high-level Pride Month event at the Pentagon.

Marine Corps headquarters tweeted an image of a helmet sporting six rainbow-colored “bullets.” Air Force Recruiting posted a picture of trainees running with a rainbow striped banner, not the Stars and Stripes, and in Germany, Ramstein Air Force Base sponsored their second “Drag Queen Story Time” for children.

In a public letter to Air Force and Ramstein officials, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) demanded cancellation and “appropriate disciplinary action against all involved in placing children in a sexualized environment.” Ramstein cancelled its 2022 event, but a “family friendly” drag queen performed at a nearby Army base.

More seriously, transgender activists are targeting military dependent children for transgender counseling and life-changing hormone treatments and surgeries to “affirm” incongruent gender identities, even though most children outgrow gender confusion on their own.

Military parents seeking competent care that protects children from disastrous treatment choices won’t be informed about a recent Heritage Foundation study presenting evidence that such treatments increase risks of suicide. Instead, parents will be denied and accused of “hate.”

‘Anti-extremism’ and Covid Mandates Send Anti-Recruiting Message

President Biden also signed an order reinstating divisive critical race theory (CRT) instructions in schools and military academies. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin began his term by ordering worldwide CRT-influenced stand-downs obsessing about “extremists” in the ranks.

These divisive sessions, which primarily focused on the right end of the spectrum, not the militant left, cost more than 5 million man-hours and $535,000. Investigators reported less than 100 cases of unacceptable extremist activities.

It didn’t help when Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Mark Milley defended CRT instructions at West Point. Instead of averting chaos in Afghanistan weeks later, Gen. Milley defended woke CRT slide presentations accusing non-minority cadets of “white privilege.”

Meanwhile, military leaders have dismissed thousands of exemplary personnel with medical or religious objections to Covid vaccinations.

Every one of these infuriating stories, including that of Gold Star widow and champion Air Force Academy athletic trainer Dana Lyon, sends an anti-recruiting message: Americans with traditional values are expendable and unwanted in today’s woke military.

Defense Department Going the Way of Disney

Amid a sharp decline in public trust in the military, Pentagon leaders should stop and consider what happened to the Walt Disney Company when it alienated traditional families. Disney decided to aggressively oppose Florida Governor Ron DeSantis’ parental rights legislation, taking sides in favor of sexual indoctrination of kindergarten students through third grade.

Many parents felt betrayed, especially when a Disney executive boasted of her plans to inject “queer” content in Disney programs aimed at children. This campaign explains LGBTQ characters in the Disney+ cartoon series “Baymax” and the gratuitous lesbian kiss in Disney’s latest feature film, “Lightyear.”

Traditional American families who used to count on Disney for wholesome, non-political entertainment are disapproving with their dollars. Since 2021, the value of Disney stock dropped by $50 billion, and Disney approval ratings have plunged 57 percent (77 points down to 33). Unlike popular Pixar films like “Toy Story,” Disney’s recent spinoff “Lightyear” bombed at the box office.

Meanwhile, “Top Gun: Maverick,” which celebrates meritocracy and excellence in tactical aviation, has been shattering records for weeks. Juxtaposition of these two films suggests lessons to be learned. The Pentagon is going the way of Disney, but the damage is immeasurably worse.  

Disney can fall back on progressive customers who don’t mind exposing their children to LGBTQ cartoon characters or drag queen story hours, but traditional middle-class families are the primary base of support for the all-volunteer force.

Moms and Dads who grew up loving Disney movies are the same adult influencers whose support is essential in attracting military recruits. Unless the Pentagon stops alienating that core constituency, the recruiting crisis will get worse.