A shocking 7 out of 10 potential Army Reserve candidates are unfit to serve their country due to obesity, prescription drug addictions and other reasons.
As reported in The Washington Times, “According to Army Recruiting Command statistics compiled last year, 71 percent of young people wanting to join the military would fail to pass service tests because of their physical, moral or cognitive shortcomings.”
Captain Eric Connor, a U.S. Army Reserve Command spokesman, said that the majority of applicants fail to meet the recruiting standards due to “mental, moral and physical reasons.” Excessive amounts of tattoos also impact their ability to join, as do weight and prescription drug problems.
Thousands of military recruits sought, but will there be enough physically-fit, drug-free applicants?
The high percentage of potential recruits who don’t meet recruiting standards is likely to become an even more serious problem since the Defense Department plans to add thousands of new members to all branches of the military over the next year. The Washington Times reports:
Military budget documents show that the Air Force, Army, Navy and Marine Corps are being asked in fiscal year 2016 to recruit 2,000 to 9,500 more active-duty [members]. The Army Reserve’s goal in fiscal year 2014 was to recruit 33,261 personnel, but military planners have considerably upped that goal in fiscal year 2016. By the end of next year, recruiters must be able to persuade 39,860 men and women to join the reserves.
Meanwhile, recruiters are being forced to operate on smaller budgets, raising questions about whether the Defense Department’s goals can possibly be met.
But the problems don’t end there.
Changing economy adds to recruitment issues
Lieutenant General David Barno, of the American University’s School of International Service, says that an improving economy will likely mean that less recruitment-age males will be interested in serving in the military. This is because a military career is often seen as a last-ditch option during times in which the overall job market is better and there are other options to explore.
He also believes that such a career is now less attractive since major military operations in Afghanistan and Iraq have ended, decreasing the opportunities for “glory and honor.”
“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,” Barno says. “So it’s going to be very, very tough to recruit in that population.” He explains that recruiters should anticipate a challenging experience in their attempts to encourage people to join the military.
Excess weight, tattoos among reasons for disqualification
Although a changing economy and a possible related disinterest in joining the military exists, Connor feels that those aren’t the biggest issues the Army Reserve faces. He says that the main challenge is the quality of the applicants, stressing the fact that an increasing amount of potential recruits are disqualified because of undesirable physical and mental conditions.
Recruiters have reported a surge in the number of candidates with dependencies on medications prescribed for various behavioral issues, which disqualify them from serving.
Some are simply unable to meet physical demands because they carry excess weight.
Other potential recruits are being rejected because of the Army’s recent tightening regarding tattoo policies; some people are turned away for having too many tattoos, or ones placed too low on the forearm.
Are preconditioning camps the answer?
Some individuals have suggested that the military could improve its recruiting tactics to make military service more attractive.
One proposal is the establishment of preconditioning camps geared for the person who wants to join, but does not meet the physical military standards. Such camps allow these people to improve their physical condition, delaying their active duty until they qualify.
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