By Debbie Gregory.
The prototype of military recruits is changing. Not long ago, Armed Forces recruiting offices used to be filled with young Americans who were either trying to make a U-turn from the wrong path, trying to better their meager career prospects, and of course, those answering their patriotic call to duty. There was a time, when “getting in” was a given, and the main issue was what MOS or Rate you would get. But that was then. Many recruits, who would have skated into the military in previous eras, would not meet the entrance qualifications of the military today.
After more than twelve years of constant war, the branches of the U.S. military are getting leaner… in terms of both force size and the sizes of individual recruits. Today’s candidates must meet very strict requirements before they are allowed entry into the Armed Forces. While every branch has its own specific standards, there are general minimum requirements that recruits must meet.
These minimum requirements include: having completed a high school education, a clean criminal record, no serious medical problems (including asthma, major surgeries and other afflictions), not having tattoos on areas of the body that can be seen while in uniform (all tattoos screened for gang affiliation), and meeting the height and weight standards for their branch. Recruiters estimate that more than 70% of Americans in the acceptable enlistment age range would be not qualify under the new standards.
But “No” doesn’t always mean no. Most of those turned away by recruiters are told that they don’t meet the height and weight standards. These young men and women are able to take it upon themselves to lose weight and get in shape. Some individual recruiters will even help those candidates with their weight loss. Once within standards, they are welcome to come back, and many do. Even those with criminal records can petition for waivers, depending on the type of crime and their history of behavior since their arrest. But with the overall size of the military shrinking, competition for spots on the team are making exceptions and waivers rare.
Many Americans feel that the military should not deny able-bodied Americans their right to serve their country. But like it or not, believe it or not, serving in the U.S. military is a privilege, NOT a right. Raising the basic standards and minimum requirements raises the bar for interested candidates. The military is now seeking quality over quantity, in terms of recruitment. Overall, it will make for a superior fighting force that will be comprised of only the best, brightest and strongest candidates that our nation has to offer.