I am amused, to say the least.
The Pentagon has decided that they have a recruiting problem. The problem is that America’s young adults are too fat, tattooed and lack the education to be in today’s military. Ah, that brings back memories of my boot camp company commander screaming at our platoon. Not that any of us were fat or uneducated, but he liked to tell us we all were, at the top of his voice, at 3 am.
Seriously, though, according to the Wall Street Journal a majority of our country’s youths are ineligible to serve in the military. The prime culprit is obesity, but our kids also have issues with not graduating from high school, having felony convictions, and ADHD. The recent grooming standards are also disqualifying a number of applicants. It’s not just the tattoos, either, piercings and ear gauges are disqualifying applicants.
When I was in high school, there was a kid a grade ahead of me that got in trouble with the law. The judge gave him a choice of jail or military service. I ran into him in the fleet a couple of years later; he was really trying to make something of himself. I suppose that back in the good old days of the 1980s, we needed as many sailors as we could get. We were building a 600-ship fleet at the time, and there wasn’t a lot of retention for underway rates.
Times have changed, there is no doubt about it, but turning away young people who want to serve seems a little self-defeating, in my opinion. Skills can be taught. Discipline can be instilled. Body weight and physical fitness can be brought into line with what the services need. When the U.S. did away with the draft in the 1970s, it was understood that the military would have to change, that the level of quality of their recruits would change. There are other options for our youth to pursue. Mandatory military service allowed the armed forces to be picky. So does a drop in their man-power requirements.
This country needs to take a look at what we are doing to our military and ask a couple of really good questions:
- Will having too many, too big or too visible tattoos prevent this young person from having the drive and motivation to want to serve his country?
- Why is the military no longer considered an honorable alternative to serving jail time for youth offenses?
- What are we going to do when we need more soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines and we have turned away so many that the military doesn’t have the depth of personnel to fight a war, police action, or even have a tug of war contest with a Cub Scout troupe?
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