History and Methods

Proud 16

This site is designed to provide updates to research on Gen Z and Millennials’ thoughts about the U.S. military in the world today. It is a resource for military leaders and scholars and anyone interested in the future of the armed services. Most of the information for this site comes from surveys of U.S. military academy cadets, ROTC cadets, and civilian college students collected over a decade and continues today. Additional posts relate to findings from other studies about the military and national defense from think tanks and research centers like Gallup Polls. Our goal is to simply be a center for this kind of work, a place to review and discuss information about the modern military and its missions.


Begun in 2002, only months after the 9/11 terrorist attacks in the U.S. where airplanes full of souls destroyed the twin towers in New York City, a part of the Pentagon in Washington, D.C., and crashed in a farmer’s field in Shanksville, PA, Dr. Morten Ender and Dr. Michael Matthews at the United States Military Academy at West Point initiated a research project to assess young people’s attitudes toward national defense, to determine whether these attacks changed the way that they viewed the military in the world today. Partnering with Dr. David Rohall (Missouri State University), the program collected survey data from Millennial cadets at U.S. military academies, ROTC programs, and civilian colleges and universities.

Since then, over 9,000 survey questionnaires have been collected from across the country with some international samples as well. Initially studying Millennials (Gen Y), today, these data begin to represent cohorts of Generation Z (Gen Z) – young people who were born at the turn of the millennium. There is no single authority when one cohort starts and another ends. The current site relies on data from both Gen Y and Gen Z cohorts. The goal is to provide relevant information on how these cohorts relate to the military institution, whether those affiliated with the military view key socio-political issues similar to – or different than – their civilian peers, and assess change over time.


All of the data reviewed on this site come from a non-random sample of cadets from the military academies and civilian students and ROTC cadets from colleges and universities across the U.S. Additional data and future data will come from European military academies and universities. Data from civilian students and ROTC cadets come from over a dozen different states ranging from New Hampshire to Washington, including Indiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, North Dakota, Georgia, California, and New York, to name a few.

Most of the people in these samples are between 18 and 20 years old, freshman and sophomore university students. The goal is to capture a sample of people who might be categorized as emerging adults, old enough to be in the military but just out of childhood.

The views presented here are those of the authors and do not purport to represent the views of their respective institutions including the United States Military Academy, the United States Air Force Academy, Missouri State University, the U.S. Air Force, the U.S. Army, the U.S. Department of Defense, or the U.S. Government.