As the perils to our nation rise, the percentage of our youth prepared to face those threats is falling.
Recruits of course must meet stringent requirements. In general, they must be physically fit and of demonstrated good character. In today’s USA, it is a sad fact that as a percentage of the population, the “few good men” are getting fewer and the issue is raising alarms at all levels in our military.
Four-star general Lt. Gen. Xavier Brunson, commander of Joint Base Lewis-McChord in Washington state, has added his voice of concern, contending that enlistment is affected by obesity or pre-existing medical conditions in today’s young people.
“Some of the challenges we have are obesity, we have pre-existing medical conditions, we have behavioral health problems, we have criminality, people with felonies, and we have drug use,” Brunson told the Spokane Spokesman-Review newspaper last month.
“This is not an Army problem, it is an American problem. Only 23% of people that are of age to serve are actually qualified,” Brunson also noted.
Brunson is backed up by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control.
According to the Department of Defense’s Stars and Stripes newspaper, the CDC estimated that 71% of young Americans are unfit for military service, with the major reasons being education deficits, obesity, drug use, and criminal records.
As another cause of the recruitment problem, the Daily Mail reports that a June survey found today’s youth are unfamiliar with the many benefits the Army offers. Among the perks offered are assistance in buying a home, education benefits, and the opportunity for early retirement. More than half of respondents thought that soldiers have a poor work-life balance.
Stars and Stripes also reported in July that the military has created a pilot program called the Future Soldier Preparatory Course intended to broaden its pool of eligible recruits. The program is to be held at Fort Jackson in South Carolina and offers two three-month courses. One will assist recruits in attaining the required score of 31 or higher on the Armed Forces Qualification Test and the other will help reduce body fat to a maximum of 20 – 26% for males and about 30 – 36% for females, depending on their age. Recruits with up to 6% more body fat than those standards are eligible to participate in the program.
Participants have up to 90 days to meet standards and will be evaluated every three weeks regarding progress toward goals. Those meeting the goals may leave the program early.
Participants who meet the standards after the training programs may then go on to standard basic training.
“The young men and women who will participate in this pilot must have the desire to improve themselves and want to honorably serve their country,” said Gen. Paul E. Funk II, leader of the Army’s Training and Doctrine Command. “This is a great way to increase opportunities for them to serve without sacrificing the quality needed across our force.”
Recruits must meet all eligibility requirements, including moral and medical accession standards.
Lt. Gen. Brunson noted, regarding the program, that “There are people who can be led from the front, but there are a certain number of people with a desire to serve who can be led from behind a little bit.”
According to a July 20 Army memorandum, in addition to assistance in attaining physical standards, the Army is sweetening the pot with enlistment bonuses of up to $50,000, and bonuses up to $35,000 for soldiers who ship out within 45 days.
Some reports contend that Covid mandates have had a negative impact on recruiting as well.
— Conservative News (@BIZPACReview) August 24, 2022
As BizPac Review reported in July, “over 60,000 National Guardsman and Reservists have been barred from performing their military obligations to protect the nation because they are not willing to violate their conscience by getting the Covid-19 vaccine.”
— Conservative News (@BIZPACReview) August 5, 2021
But in a welcome dose of great news, Stars and Stripes also featured a story about Zshanderia Bratcher, who decided in her freshman year of high school that, “I wanted to be a part of a cause bigger than myself. I want to make an impact on the world. I thought there’s no other place that I could do it better than to join the military, specifically the Air Force.”
Ms. Bratcher, 17, has now earned the rank of airman and is in training to be a member of Air Force security forces.
Lt. Gen. Brunson, who has been with the Army for 32 years, sees serving as an opportunity.
“I get troubled when people talk about the Army as if it’s the end of a thing. The Army is the beginning of a thing,” he told the Spokane Spokesman-Review. “It’s the opening of an aperture to the rest of your life.”
“I think there’s a divide in the nation between the stewardship of the nation and ownership of the nation,” he added. “People own the title, ‘I’m an American,’ but stewardship says, ‘I’ve served the nation,’ and that’s what makes the republic sound.”
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