75 Percent of Young Adults Cannot Join the Military: How Do You Fix That?
The US military needs competent, healthy and educated individuals to join its forces. But the majority of 17- to 24-year old Americans aren’t eligible. That fact has made news lately. There are three key reasons why: 1. Inadequate education (one of four lacks a high school diploma; and 30 percent of those who have one and try to enlist fail the military’s math and reading tests); 2. Criminality (one in 10 has at least one prior felony or serious misdemeanor); 3. Physically unfit: 27 percent are too overweight.
Mission: Readiness, a nonpartisan, nonprofit, national security organization of nearly 90 retired generals, admirals and civilian military leaders (note: just 3 of the 89 are females), is advocating for high-quality early education as a remedy to the candidate problem. High-quality early education increases graduation rates by as much as 44 percent. Mission: Readiness outlined its argument–which specifically recommends quality Pre-K–in the 2009 report “Ready, Willing and Unable to Serve, 75 Percent of Young Adults Cannot Join the Military.” Generals and admirals don’t immediately spring to mind when you think of the people fighting for Pre-K kids, but the military leadership recognizes that early training is critical to development of skills and character–and they know the human and financial costs when those qualities go missing in service men and women. Sometimes you just have to look past your nose to see (and start to solve) the problems: The US district with the worst national average of overweight 17-24-year-olds who have dropped out of high school–and who are either on probation, incarcerated or on parole–can be found right between the Pentagon and the White House.