One of the great honors of my life was being able to enlist in the United States Navy and serve as a hospital corpsman. While I was never an ideal sailor by any stretch of the imagination, serving did wonders for me as an individual and helped make me who I am today.
Unfortunately, it sounds like a large percentage of the current generation won’t get to enjoy that honor — because they cannot meet basic fitness, education, and behavior requirements.
According to a report from The Heritage Foundation, almost three-quarters of Americans of typical enlistment age are ineligible to serve in the armed forces: “According to 2017 Pentagon data, 71 percent of young Americans between 17 and 24 are ineligible to serve in the United States military. Put another way: Over 24 million of the 34 million people of that age group cannot join the armed forces — even if they wanted to.”
The Daily Caller notes the multiple factors: “Physical fitness is not the only barrier for those wanting to join the military. The four main reasons are health problems (32 percent), physical fitness (27 percent), education (25 percent) and criminality in 10 percent.”
Education and criminality have always been an issue: The military — in contrast to Leftist talking points — is no “last chance” refuge for those with no other options. They simply don’t accept those with a criminal history or sub-standard educations.
The other two factors, however, are the shockers.
There have always been Americans who can’t serve due to health reasons or lack of physical fitness. What’s new is the percentage: that’s a whopping 59 percent of Americans aged 17-24 being ruled out for these reasons.
And health problems beyond one’s control aren’t suddenly rising. The Heritage Foundation report notes:
According to the former commander of the U.S. Army Recruiting Command, Major General Allen Batschelet, the biggest culprit keeping young adults from qualifying to serve in the United States military however is health concerns, mostly obesity. In 2015, he stated: “The obesity issue is the most troubling because the trend is going in the wrong direction. … By 2020 it could be as high as 50%, which means only 2 in 10 would qualify to join the Army.”
America’s youngest adults are so unfit, it’s a national security issue.
Let’s be clear, those standards exist for a reason. While our military is more technical than it was in previous generations, it still requires someone who can run out and face the enemy, close with them, kill them if needed, and not die of a heart attack because the exertion was too much for their bodies to handle.
That means “fat acceptance” and general laziness are threats to our national security, strategies that may ultimately undermine our ability to defend this great nation.
I’m not saying anyone needs to go to jail over this, but maybe it’s time we stop trying to be nice and put a little boot to rear and quit letting this nonsense dictate the direction of conversation.