According to the Pentagon, 71 percent of Americans age 17 to 24 are ineligible to join the military, primarily because they are too overweight or too poorly educated, or they have a record of serious crime or drug abuse.
“We think by 2020 it could be as high as 50 percent, which means only 2 in 10 would qualify to join the Army.”.
The effects of America’s “culture of obesity” — making poor nutrition choices or getting inadequate exercise, or both — affects many who do enlist.
The military spends more than $1.5 billion annually treating obesity-related health conditions and replacing those discharged because they’re unfit.
Recruiting challenges caused by health-related factors such as obesity, it’s fair to say, increase pressure on the military to compensate by enlisting otherwise ineligible candidates.
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Retired Maj. Gen. Jeffrey E. Phillips is a member of Mission: Readiness and the executive director of the Reserve Officers Association. »