Admirals Advice

Rethinking Millennials and the Greatest Generation

Tom Brokaw describes Americans who came of age during the Great Depression and World War II as “The Greatest Generation.”

Tom Brokaw describes Americans who came of age during the Great Depression and World War II as “The Greatest Generation.” The praise is deserved. But I have worked closely with youth in each succeeding generation and continue to be impressed by the millennials driving growth and innovation today.

Critics sometimes write off millennials as lazy, entitled and soft. But that’s not what I see. More often than not, they come out of college or return from military service and immediately begin looking for ways to contribute to their communities.

More than anything, they want to be part of something bigger than themselves.

I saw this commitment recently when a group of NewDay USA volunteers gathered to wash the Vietnam Veterans Memorial on the National Mall. Mortgage lenders who normally work in suits and ties were on their hands and knees, pulling debris from drainage pipes and removing pebbles from cracks in the walkway.

Few of the volunteers who served that day were even alive during the Vietnam War, a defining period of my generation. The young volunteers did not know my nine classmates whose names are etched on the wall or Tom Holden, my Naval Academy teammate, who lined up with me on defense during our Cotton Bowl season in 1963.

Tom and two other football teammates died on active duty; I am reminded of their sacrifice when I scan the wall of 58,000 names. The cleaning project was personal for me that day, but my millennial companions served with the same respect as if they had known my friends.

This is typical of our young workforce at NewDay USA. I engage these top performers during regular recognition luncheons, and I listen to their stories of how they change the lives of our veteran client families.

NewDay specializes in VA-guaranteed loans that help veterans transition to civilian life. Mortgage lending for most banks is about checking boxes and feeding a computer. But NewDay looks beyond a simple FICO score. We want to know our veteran customers on a personal level, therefore, every loan is manually underwritten and fully documented.

Tears flow when the loan is approved, allowing our veteran clients to consolidate credit card debt, lower monthly payments and help families get back on track toward achieving their goals.

We talk at NewDay about “no dry eyes,” and I put the slogan to the test during a recent luncheon. “How many of you have had customers cry after receiving a loan approval?” Every hand went up.

This is not just a perk for millennials. The 2017 Deloitte Millennial Survey shows that business involvement in social issues and worthy causes are key factors for this generation in choosing where to work.

At NewDay, we provide 5% of our net income to our NewDay USA Foundation. These funds are then meted out to veteran causes and organizations. A major focus is to provide tuition assistance for the sons and daughters of military personnel who were killed or disabled while on active duty. We currently have 32 young scholars at different military high schools throughout the country. Additionally, we ask our NewDay teammates to volunteer their free time to participate in veteran-centric efforts such as the Vietnam Veteran Memorial Wall washings, wreath laying at Arlington national cemetery, serving the less fortunate at Veteran homeless shelters and many other worthy veteran causes. It's humbling to see their response; they devote hundreds of hours each month.

Millennials never survived a Great Depression or turned back the Axis powers during World War II, but they are making their mark in other ways. If our NewDay millennials are representative of this generation, then giving back to society is a shared value for them that defines the generation.

Rear Admiral Thomas C. Lynch (USN, Ret.) is Executive Chairman of the Board of Advisors at NewDay USA, a mortgage lender in Fulton, Md., that specializes in VA-guaranteed loans. As Chairman, the Admiral instills military values in every member of his team.

To learn more about NewDay USA and see the Admiral’s leadership in action, call us today. It is our mission to help you get the financial security you deserve.