Obese Nation Diminishes Quality Candidates For U.S. Military
Published : April 17, 2018
According to recent data, this is becoming apparent. The Pentagon’s 2017 data reveals that 71 percent of Americans between the ages of 17 and 24 are ineligible to serve in the United States military. With approximately 34 million men and women in that age group, more than 24 million cannot join the armed forces, even if there was desire.
The nation is then relying on the remaining 29 percent or 10 million to voluntarily choose to join the military and serve a country that increasingly disrespects and disparages those who choose to defend it unceasingly. And that means our national security is directly at risk.
This is not a new problem, but it is becoming more dire, as we continue to alter the expectations, speak ill of the military, and for some simply ignore it. In 2009, nonprofit group “Mission: Readiness” was created to draw attention to the issues retired U.S. generals and admirals saw coming. The report “Ready, Willing, and Unable to Serve” found at the time that inadequate education, criminality, and obesity were the main causes of why young Americans could not serve.
Education, criminality, and obesity. As a society, we have not solved or significantly bettered any of these instances in the past decade. The message sent by nearly 100 retired military leaders explained its need for rigorous eligibility standards. “The best aircraft, ships and satellite-guided weaponry alone will not be enough to keep our country strong,” the letter states. “To ensure a strong, capable fighting force for the future, America’s youth must succeed academically, graduate from high school, be fit, and obey the law.”
The National Center for Education Statistics finds that the high school graduation rate for public school is at 83 percent. But more than 75 percent of these same graduates are unable to name the three branches of government. Suicide rates of teenagers has jumped more than 70 percent from 2006-2016 according to the Centers for Disease Control. Roughly one in every 13 troops is clinically overweight. And 36.5 percent of adult Americans are obese and about one in every five teenagers is obese. Physical activity has dwindled in this country, and adults spend more than 12 hours per day consuming media.
None of this is positive for our children, our society, nor our military.
The Army announced its possible solution to the ever-increasing lack of physical fitness and discipline of its recruits. Secretary of the Army Mark Esper recently said the Army is considering a new physical fitness regime that goes beyond the pushup/sit-up/2 mile run tests. A new six-event Army physical fitness test will include a truer test of fitness that includes core strength and cardio. A reform and extension of basic training is also being considered. A redesigned Basic Combat Training (BCT) is expected to be implemented by early summer.
That will be one step toward better protection, but more steps are needed.