The US Army has released a new animated recruitment campaign featuring five diverse soldiers and an LGBT+ family in the hopes of appealing to new young audiences.
The campaign, which launched this week, is titled “The Calling” and features five animated short films detailing how a different person in each film decided to join the Army.
One clip follows the story of corporal Emma Malonelord who was “raised by two supportive mothers” and goes on to operate the nation’s missile defence systems.
“It begins in California, with a little girl raised by two moms,” Ms Malonelord says in the clip. “Although I had a fairly typical childhood, took ballet, played violin, I also marched for equality.”
“I like to think I’ve been defending freedom from a young age.”
The animation flashes to a frame of an LGBT+ pride parade, with the young girl and her mothers in attendance.
The video then illustrates one of Ms Malonelord’s mother's recovery from an accident that left her paralysed with the parent “eventually standing at the altar to marry [her] other mom”.
“Sure, I’d spent my life around inspiring women, but what had I really achieved on my own?” the animated version of Ms Malonelord asks after completing university.
After meeting with an Army recruiter Emma finds a way to prove “her inner strength” and “maybe shatter some stereotypes along the way”.
General Patrick Michaelis, deputy commander of US Army Recruiting Command, told Military.com that the new videos are a “distinct departure” from previous campaigns.
“Both in its arresting kind of visual, this anime approach but also an intimate portrayal of those who serve," Mr Michaelis said.
The other personal stories in the campaign feature stories from those from other underrepresented backgrounds including a Dominican immigrant, an African American woman, and a Haitian man.
The tagline for the campaign reads: “See how five young Americans made the most important decision of their lives, for reasons as diverse as they are.”
The Army has been making a sustained effort to appeal to more diverse groups in recent years, with LGBT+, ethnic minority groups, and women remaining severely underrepresented within its ranks, particularly in high-level positions.
Only from 2011 have openly gay, lesbian, and bisexual people been permitted to serve in the US military. A recruitment ban on transgender people was put in place under Donald Trump, but was lifted this year under President Joe Biden’s administration.
And despite the push for inclusion, Military OneSource a US Department of Defense programme offering support to active members says that some LGBT+ members still “worry about living openly” and “fear being harassed or passed over for assignments or promotions”.
Minority ethnic groups also remain highly marginalised. According to 2018 Pentagon data, nearly 24 per cent of the Army’s enlisted force was Black while about 17 per cent was Hispanic.
Those numbers also drop significantly as rank increases with just 10 per cent of the officer corps being Black and 8.6 per cent being Hispanic.
Earlier this month, top US Army General Mark Milley urged for greater diversity in the military saying: “Opportunity in our military must be reflective of the diverse talent in order for us to remain strong.”
“Our nation is ready to fulfil the promise of our Constitution to build a more perfect union and to ensure equal justice for all people, and it is your generation that can and will bring the joint force to be truly inclusive of all people,” he said.
Additional reporting by the Associated Press