By Debbie Gregory.
The failure of Americans from 17- 24 years old to meet weight and fitness standards, as well as issues with conduct, medical concerns, mental health, and substance abuse are causing significant recruiting problems for the military.
And that doesn’t even take into consideration the prospects that are in college or the ones who have no interest in military service.
A big misconception is that military service disproportionately attracts minorities and men and women from disadvantaged backgrounds. Many believe that troops enlist because they have few options, not because they want to serve their country.
But often times, military service is a family tradition. Some 80% of recruits currently entering the military have family members who served, with between 22% and 35% being the children of veterans.
As the veteran population shrinks, the obligation to serve is increasingly being shouldered by a small subset of multigenerational military families. A soldier’s demographic characteristics are of little importance in the military, which values honor, leadership, self-sacrifice, courage, and integrity-qualities that cannot be quantified.
There are a number of ways that the military is looking to beef up its numbers. Besides aggressive marketing, the service branches are offering incentives such as relaxed standards, monetary bonuses, sabbatical leaves, and of course, the great GI Bill benefits.
There is also a big push to recall veterans to active duty.
But will this be enough?
“If we don’t turn this around, where does the world’s strongest military recruit from?” asked Rep. Don Bacon, a Nebraska Republican and former Air Force one-star general.