Commentary

Many Americans Unqualified For Military Service

Commentary
By Jack Gurner

As Memorial Day comes to an end (and apparently it was a fun holiday from the number of calls to which law enforcement responded for drunken behavior) here are some sobering facts…

Most Americans are ineligible to join the military because they are obese, drug users, medically unfit, failed to graduate from high school or have criminal records. The Pentagon estimates only around 25 percent of American youth are qualified to serve.

More than 20 percent of high school students drop out before graduation, 35 percent of Americans are obese or medically disqualified, 19 percent are drug or heavy alcohol users, and 5 percent have criminal records.

But, even if the military were to accept less qualified Americans, the Pentagon estimates shed an alarming light on the numbers of people who are too overweight or uneducated to serve the country even if they wanted to. Obesity is the single greatest non-criminal hindrance for young people seeking to enlist in the armed forces.

Here is an interesting report posted on the Internet for those who are interested: http://cdn.missionreadiness.org/NATEE1109.pdf. It was prepared by Mission: Readiness, a group of retired generals including National Guard General Roger L. Shields, a Water Valley native. The group pushes early child education to help with the dismal graduation rate.

Because of my own experience with the military, over the years I have recommended joining the service to a lot of young people who didn’t know what they wanted to do with their life. I wouldn’t give anything for my four years of active duty in the USAF. I was lucky. I had my choice of service because I had high scores on the military tests.

As I get older I am less likely to push someone toward the military. Because of the dangers, it is a decision that they must make after careful consideration.

Even back in the late 1960s during the Vietnam war, I watched as people were killed because of political interference from Washington. The base where I was located (Takhli RTAFB, Thailand) lost many men and aircraft because of Lyndon Johnson and Robert McNamara, who basically planned bombing missions out of the White House. The North Vietnamese gunners didn’t even have to aim. They could set their watches by our missions and knew exactly what routes we flew.

I am glad to know there are still young men and women willing to serve…and fit to serve. But, we also owe them a lot more than leadership who endanger their lives daily to avoid upsetting people who already hate us and our way of life.

 

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