Petty Officer 2nd Class Cha’lee Adams Jr. isn’t just a sailor. He’s also a comedian with an online video channel that’s gone viral, and he’s tossing his hat into stand-up routines as well.
Adams is the first service member to be featured on DODLive as a part of the Department of Defense’s new initiative, “Know Your Military,” launched on Feb. 1.
It’s not a recruiting effort, but an outreach initiative, conducted primarily over social media, to try to shrink the growing civilian-military divide.
“It’s an effort to introduce the American public to the 1 percent who serve,” Pentagon Press Secretary Dana White said during a press briefing Feb. 1.
Not only is 99 percent of the country’s population not serving, few in the U.S. even have a direct link to the military.
“In the mid-90s, about 40 percent of young Americans had a direct family member that was a veteran or a service member,” said Amber Smith, deputy assistant to the secretary of defense for outreach. “Today it’s about 15 percent.”
The “Know Your Military” initiative will be split into monthly themes, such as “Married to the Military,” “Getting Schooled in the Military,” and “Entrepreneurship and Innovation.” February’s theme is “We are connected.”
Each month, the program will share videos and news stories about real people serving in the U.S. military and use social media to connect with a broader audience of people than the military generally connects with, according to Smith.
“Our intent is to expand our audience past the national security, and defense, and military audience and reach a broader American public,” said Smith. “We’re coming up with unique and creative ideas … to pull people’s attention and have them be interested in different sides of the military that people aren’t used to hearing about.”
The videos will also work to fix common myths about military life by giving viewers a “balanced view” and “behind-the-scenes look” at those who are serving.
According to Smith, common misconceptions revolve around schooling opportunities, family life, and physical and mental health, and that “you’ll have a problem adapting back to the private sector and civilian life.”
“We have also found that people think that military life leads to being lonely; [that] your schedule is very unpredictable and it’s not compatible with having a family,” said Smith.
“A lot of Americans today are familiar with the negatives that come along with serving,” said Smith. “We want to get positive news out there as well.”
Positive news includes the military’s humanitarian missions, such as hurricane recovery in the South, snow storm support in the North, and wildfire response in the West.
The military has a presence around the country and the globe, and the initiative’s goal is that “people understand that the military is a force for good,” and that it is “relevant to their everyday lives and for generations to come,” Smith said.