I retired from the military in 2014 and taught Army JROTC at a local high school in Los Angeles for seven years. I can tell you that young men are less virile and ambitious than prior generations. Although we did not recruit for the military, every year we would introduce the Cadets to Army, Marine, Navy, Air Force, and occasionally Coast Guard recruiters. Of course, the Space Force was too new to field a force of recruiters at that time. Of the thousand or so Cadets that I mentored, only twelve ever managed to enlist in the military. Of those twelve, only a handful completed more than one tour. Most Cadets did not try to enter the military due to poor physical condition, obesity, or simply lake of confidence in their own ability to overcome harsh treatment.

Of course, I cannot begin to generalize about the state of this younger generation. Mine was only a small sample of the thousands of Cadets that are schooled across the country. However, it is worth noting that there were prevalent behaviors that I believe promoted this general lack of virility on the part of male Cadets between the ages of 13 – 18.

First, an overarching attachment to the smart phone. Cadets were plugged into their phones 24/7. Many actually wore bluetooth earphones the entire time they were at school. Besides the hearing loss this represents, these phones served as barriers to social interaction with the world around them.

Second, was lack of understanding of the way our country operates. There was a general desire to stay insulated from news and consider the bigger picture of culture and politics to be beyond their reach. The powers that be are too remote to be relevant to their lives. Now this may sound extreme, but I can assure you that they were not checking CBS News or CNN on their phones.

Third, there is a general tendency in American culture to downplay the importance of manhood outside of organized sports. The trend sends strong messages to young men that manhood is less important than going along and being part of the crowd.

What do I mean by manhood? The rock-hard understanding, passed down by parents, that hard work, sacrifice, and responsibility are worth pursuing. If you look at Ukraine, you understand that every male, and many female volunteers, are required on short notice the lay down their lives in defense of their country. I worry that our young men will misunderstand the sacrifice required due to their upbringing.

And why is ambition a four-letter word? Our country promotes women and minorities which is important and right. Women, on the other hand, are outpacing American males in college admission. This is not good for the future of American society because it omits the importance that the two genders offer to community. Females offer stability while males sacrifice for the family unit. These two roles are ingrained in us through millennia of culturation.

So, what is to be done? The family unit, whatever its makeup, must promote male virtues whenever possible. Strength, endurance, and ambition are valuable traits if they are not allowed to crowd out the humanity of our young men. Strong boundaries must be set when it comes to the use of technology. Our children are drinking information through a fire hose. Their young minds cannot assimilate this huge volume of information. Their natural reaction to this is to tune out, isolate, and self-protect. Finally, push our young men to set high goals and strive hard to achieve them with the understanding that, more than most cultures, ours is a level playing field.