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According to a study from the Pentagon, 77% of young Americans do not qualify for military service due to being overweight, drug use, and medical/physical health.
The study was conducted by the Pentagon’s office of personnel and readiness and the findings were detailed in the Pentagon’s 2020 Qualified Military Available Study, Yahoo reports.
“When considering youth disqualified for one reason alone, the most prevalent disqualification rates are overweight (11%), drug and alcohol abuse (8%), and medical/physical health (7%),” the study, which examined Americans between the ages of 17 and 24, read, per Yahoo.
As a whole, mental health issues accounted for 4% of all disqualifications. Conduct, aptitude, or being a dependent accounted for 1% of all disqualifications. There were multiple reasons for disqualifying 44% of youth.
The findings were shared with Military.com and “shows a 6% increase from the latest 2017 Department of Defense research that showed 71%... would be ineligible for service,” per Yahoo.
“There are many factors that we are navigating through, such as the fact that youth are more disconnected and disinterested compared to previous generations,” said Maj. Charlie Dietz, a Department of Defense spokesman. “The declining veteran population and shrinking military footprint has contributed to a market that is unfamiliar with military service resulting in an overreliance of military stereotypes.”
Many lawmakers have noted that the widespread ineligibility of many Americans could potentially have a grave impact on the U.S. military enrollment.
“To put it bluntly, I am worried we are now in the early days of a long-term threat to the all-volunteer force. [There is] a small and declining number of Americans who are eligible and interested in military service,” Sen. Thom Tillis, R-N.C., the ranking member of the Senate Armed Services Committee personnel panel, said during an April 27 hearing.
He added that “every single metric tracking the military recruiting environment is going in the wrong direction.”