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Military Connection: When Only The Best and Brightest Will Do

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By Debbie Gregory.

We all hit roadblocks in life, and sometimes the choices we make seem reasonable at the time. But now, many of those choices are haunting those who hoped to serve in the military.

With the armed services in a position of “spoiled for choice,” there are many who are prohibited from joining the military due to being hooked on prescription drugs, having too many tattoos, being overweight, or having mental conditions.

“Seven out of 10 applicants will fail to meet Army Reserve standards on mental, moral, and physical reasons,” says Captain Eric Conner, spokesman for the U.S. Army Reserve Command.

According to the Army Recruiting Command statistics gathered last year, a staggering 71 percent of young people wanting to join the military would fail to pass service tests because of their physical, moral, or cognitive inadequacies.

The problem seems to be getting worse as the Defense Department heads into a perfect storm of wanting to add thousands of members to each branch in the coming year, while working with a smaller budget. The extra pressure will mostly affect recruiters, in both active forces and reserves.

Budget documents show that the Air Force, Army, Navy, and Marine Corps are being asked, in fiscal year 2016, to recruit from 2,000 to 9,500 more active-duty. For the Army Reserve, they’re being asked to recruit over 39,000 men and women.

Adding to the challenge is an improved economy. In a downturned economy, the military is attractive as a “last-resort” job.

“There’s lots of jobs out there, and now it looks like the military is not as involved in as many operations that seem exciting to 18-year-olds,” Gen. Barno says. “It’s going to be very, very tough to recruit in that population. It’s going to be some really, really, challenging times coming up for recruiters,” he adds.

However, Capt. Connor says the Army Reserve has been struggling to meet its recruitment goals for reasons having more to do with the quality of recruits, saying, “A major reason is only 3 out of 10 people qualify for the Army Reserve, being disqualified because of mental, moral and physical reasons. We’re also competing against other services for potential recruits and many civilians don’t know about the benefits offered by the army reserve or the military.”

The military may be forced to think outside the box to address possible recruiting problems and get more creative in their recruiting efforts.  One alternative might be free tattoo removal services. Another could be establishing a preconditioning camp to whip those into shape who would otherwise not pass the rigorous physical tests.

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Military Connection: When Only The Best and Brightest Will Do: By Debbie Gregory