A new Department of Defense study suggests that 77% of America’s youth is ineligible for military service without a waiver, most of whom would be disqualified for obesity, drug use, and physical and mental health issues. This number is up from 71% earlier this year.
The study was conducted by the Pentagon’s Office of Personnel and Readiness and looked at Americans between the ages of 17 and 24. It read in part, “When considering youth disqualified for one reason alone, the most prevalent disqualification rates are overweight (11%), drug and alcohol abuse (8%), and medical/physical health (7%).”
44% of disqualified individuals were ineligible for more than one of the above reasons.
This most recent set of metrics points to a quickly dwindling pool of recruits in the midst of the worst military recruiting crisis that the country has seen since the draft ended along with the war in Vietnam in 1973.
Spokesperson for the Department of Defense, Major Charlie Dietz, was able to confirm that these numbers were in fact accurate. He said:
“There are many factors that we are navigating through, such as the fact that youth are more disconnected and disinterested compared to previous generations. The declining veteran population and shrinking military footprint has contributed to a market that is unfamiliar with military service resulting in an overreliance of military stereotypes.”
The nonprofit organization, The Council for a Strong America, which is comprised of retired military officers, law enforcement and business leaders pushing for healthier eating and lifestyle habits for America’s youth released a statement calling on lawmakers to act in a manor which will better equip young people for military service.
The statement said:
“The retired admirals and generals of Mission: Readiness recognize that the underlying causes of obesity cannot be solved by the efforts of the military alone. With an increase in youth being ineligible for military service, it is more important than ever for policymakers, including state and local school boards, to promote healthy eating, increased access to fresh and nutritious foods, and physical activity for children from an early age.”