California Lutheran University's Student Newspaper Since 1961

The Echo

California Lutheran University's Student Newspaper Since 1961

The Echo

California Lutheran University's Student Newspaper Since 1961

The Echo

    Navy Veteran Turned YouTube Sensation

    Justin Meiners is a Navy veteran with the most popular Navy content based YouTube channel on the internet, JTsuits. He has almost 60,000 subscribers and 10 million channel views.

    Looking to step outside of his sheltered life and not quite ready for college yet, Meiners joined the Navy out of high school and served four and a half years as an aviation mechanic. He wanted to learn some skills, be on his own and become a man, so the military sounded like a good option to him.

    During Meiners time in the Navy, he did a nine month deployment on the USS Abraham Lincoln and lived in Japan for about two years. He then did another six month deployment.

    โ€œWhen I joined the Navy in 2009/2010 I was looking all over for information like: Whatโ€™s boot camp like? Whatโ€™s living on a ship like? Whatโ€™s deployment like? All these questions I had and there was hardly anything out there on YouTube at the time,โ€ Meiners said.

    In 2012, Meiners uploaded his first YouTube video about life after Navy boot camp. For the next two years on active duty, he posted a video every couple of months answering questions.

    After processing out, Meiners began studying accounting at California Lutheran University in 2015, but around that same time he started taking his YouTube channel more seriously and fell in love with social media, creating content, videos and connecting with an audience. He decided to change his major to communication with an emphasis in TV and film production.

    Ali Nibarger, a friend and co-worker of Meinersโ€™ in the veterans office sees him as a big brother figure.

    โ€œI think whatโ€™s cool about Justin is that he really cares about people. Heโ€™s also fun to be around and heโ€™s really funny,โ€ Nibarger said.

    Meiners also started a series in 2015 on โ€œmilitary life: before and after.โ€ He has done about 70 episodes of this series with other veterans at Cal Lutheran.

    โ€œI started posting two videos weekly and then three, four and my subscribers kept going up and up. Then I was like dang, I think I can do this. So I started doing daily videos,โ€ Meiners said.

    From the end of 2015 to now, Meinersโ€™ channel grew from one thousand to almost 60,000 subscribers. He is also very close to passing the official U.S. Navyโ€™s YouTube channel in amount of subscribers.

    โ€œItโ€™s so weird because Iโ€™m just one guy, one Navy veteran just talking about my stories and making content about my life after the Navy. Just doing all these different types of videos. Itโ€™s awesome,โ€ Meiners said.

    Meiners attributes his channel growth to posting more consistently. He has about 600 videos on the channel currently, so anyone who is looking for information about the Navy will most likely come across his content. Meiners gets daily messages from people currently in the Navy who watch his videos, as well as people who say they joined because of him. A couple of people have also come to Cal Lutheran due to Meiners.

    โ€œItโ€™s a lot of responsibility at times, sometimes I get overwhelmed like dang all these kids joined the Navy. What kind of role model am I supposed to set? Then I just decided to be myself and if theyโ€™re going to like me, they like me and if they donโ€™t, they donโ€™t have to watch,โ€ Meiners said.

    Jenn Zimmerman, veterans coordinator has known Meiners since he started at Cal Lutheran. She describes Meiners as an overall great guy who is charismatic.

    โ€œHe started that from little baby nothing and itโ€™s massive and itโ€™s changed peopleโ€™s lives and heโ€™s really making a cool impact on that section of people,โ€ Zimmerman said.

    Graduating in December, Meiners definitely plans to continue posting videos. Currently YouTube is a part-time job.

    As far as the future of Meinersโ€™ channel goes, he expects to always put up military content but might start doing more life and family based videos, since he and his wife are expecting their first child in January. He is also thinking of creating a website where he can sell merchandise and an eBook.

    If you want to check out Meinersโ€™ channel and hear about his experiences in the Navy and life as a Veteran, check out JTsuits on YouTube.

    Bridget Sjolie