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Recruits' Ineligibility Tests the Military

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+Frank B.    7,099

Recruits' Ineligibility Tests the Military

More Than Two-Thirds of American Youth Wouldn't Qualify for Service, Pentagon Says

 

More than two-thirds of America's youth would fail to qualify for military service because of physical, behavioral or educational shortcomings, posing challenges to building the next generation of soldiers even as the U.S. draws down troops from conflict zones.

 

The military deems many youngsters ineligible due to obesity, lack of a high-school diploma, felony convictions and prescription-drug use for attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder. But others are now also running afoul of standards for appearance amid the growing popularity of large-scale tattoos and devices called ear gauges that create large holes in earlobes.

 

A few weeks ago, Brittany Crippen said she tried to enlist in the Army, only to learn that a tattoo of a fish on the back of her neck disqualified her. Determined to join, the 19-year-old college student visited a second recruiting center in the Dallas-Fort Worth area and was rejected again.

 

Apologetic recruiters encouraged her to return after removing the tattoo, a process she was told would take about year. "I was very upset," Ms. Crippen said.

 

The military services don't keep figures on how many people they turn away. But the Defense Department estimates 71% of the roughly 34 million 17- to 24-year-olds in the U.S. would fail to qualify to enlist in the military if they tried, a figure that doesn't even include those turned away for tattoos or other cosmetic issues. Meanwhile, only about 1% of youths are both "eligible and inclined to have a conversation with us" about military service, according to Major Gen. Allen Batschelet, commanding general of U.S. Army Recruiting Command.

 

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Comparable data aren't available for earlier years because the Pentagon began tracking eligibility only recently. But experts said seniors graduating from high school this year face the longest odds to qualify for military service since the draft was abolished in 1973.

 

"The quality of people willing to serve has been declining rapidly," said Gen. Batschelet.

 

Each year, about 180,000 young men and women successfully volunteer for America's active-duty forces. An additional 110,000 join the services' reserve and National Guard units. Individual services manage their own recruiting and have the authority to grant waivers to applicants who don't meet broad standards.

 

When the military faced escalating foreign engagement in recent years, recruiting standards were loosened: In 2007, only 79% of those who enlisted in the Army had completed high school, compared with 90% in 2001, while the Army also accepted recruits with more excess body fat during the height of the Iraq war.

 

"We have not adopted a zero-defect mentality. We evaluate each applicant from a whole-person perspective," said Nathan Christensen, a Defense Department spokesman, who added that military services have been meeting their recruiting targets in recent years.

 

To some degree, that has been aided by enlistment bonuses. From 2000 to 2008, the Defense budget for enlistment bonuses more than doubled to $625 million, and it jumped more than 50% to $1.4 billion for selective re-enlistment bonuses, according to a Rand Corp. analysis.

 

Obesity, the single biggest reason for disqualifying new recruits, and other obstacles, such as poor educational attainment, led 90 retired military leaders in 2009 to form Mission: Readiness, a nonprofit aimed at raising awareness and seeking solutions. The group has lobbied state and federal officials to improve nutrition in schools and expand access to early education.

 

"We're trying to make decision makers see this is a national-security matter?and they need to prioritize it," said retired Major Gen. Allen Youngman. In the past, he said, "a drill sergeant could literally run the weight off a soldier as part of the regular training program," but now, "we have young people showing up at the recruiter's office who want to serve but are 50 or more pounds overweight."

 

About a quarter of high-school graduates also can't pass the Armed Forces Qualification Test, which measures math and reading skills, Gen. Youngman said. "They aren't educationally qualified to join the military in any capacity, not just the high-tech jobs," he said.

 

U.S. Army First Sgt. James Sawyer, who heads recruiting across a swath of Los Angeles County, said tattoos have become the most common cosmetic reason that applicants are disqualified. The Army already banned tattoos on the face, neck and fingers, but according to regulations in effect May 1, soldiers also can't have more than a total of four visible tattoos below the elbows and knees, and tattoos must be relatively small. The goal of the tattoo rules is to maintain a professional-looking Army, Sgt. Sawyer said. He added that "the average person in California has a tattoo."

 

Gabby Guillen, director of tattoo removal at Homeboy Industries, a Los Angeles nonprofit that provides services to former gang members, said that "on a daily basis, people come in saying they don't qualify for the military because of their tattoos. They have visible tattoos. Sometimes it's behind the neck area, on the hands, face, ears."

 

Sgt. Sawyer's El Monte, Calif., recruiting center serves towns with a total population of 325,000 people. It enlists 10 to 15 people a month. "A lot of times, we don't even get to the interview stage," said the sergeant on a recent afternoon as some would-be soldiers dropped in.

 

One young man showed up with two gaping holes in his earlobes, the result of wearing ear gauges. "Come back when they're closed," the recruiter said, after jotting down the applicant's information.

 

David Monzon, a 23-year-old East Los Angeles man, said he had long wanted to join the Army but wasn't able to enlist after graduating; at 5 feet 6 inches tall, he weighed 300 pounds. After researching weight-loss programs, Mr. Monzon eliminated pizza, chili-cheese fries and other fatty foods from his diet, and he began riding his bike everywhere.

 

In February, Mr. Monzon walked into the recruiting center weighing 210 pounds. Sgt. Sawyer told him he was impressed but that he still needed to drop a few more pounds.

 

"I was pretty confident I would make it," Mr. Monzon said. He did. Now 190 pounds, Mr. Monzon is heading to South Carolina for basic training in September.

 

Ms. Crippen, meanwhile, said she was still considering whether to remove her fish tattoo, the only one of four tattoos she has that is problematic. "My parents said they'll pay for it, but right now I really don't know what I'll do," she said. "My tattoo isn't offensive."

 

Source: The Wall Street Journal

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Gerowen    1,090

I think the biggest single contributor I saw was obesity and physical fitness.  Even when I was in obesity and physical fitness were huge obstacles for some people.  In Basic Training I was by no means a star athlete, but there were guys who literally looked like they were about to die 1/2 mile into a run.  Then there were those who finagled around enough to scrape through the weight requirement to enlist, and then gained it back once they started eating normally again.  Don't get me wrong, the majority of the people in the service were in great shape, but if I had to pick the single biggest issue people had, it would be physical fitness.  In today's world of technology nobody really "does" anything any more.  Our Drill Sergeants in Basic would yell at us when guys started falling out of the runs saying things like, "If this is the best the Nintendo generation has to offer then God help my Army!"

 

The biggest thing we could do to help this, not just for the Army's sake, but for the health of our children, is to get them outside.  Raise a garden, go deer hunting, play ball, be physically active with your kids on a regular basis.  That way if they get to a point that they want to join, they won't be stopped from doing something they want to do because they weren't shown a healthy lifestyle early enough to set them up for success.

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Torolol    925

Nintendo generation

if that was Nintendo, how the xbox gen would fare?

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Decebalvs Rex    87

if that was Nintendo, how the xbox gen would fare?

xbox gen fares well , they are already preparing for the army trough console wars.

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Torolol    925

xbox gen fares well , they are already preparing for the army trough console wars.

yeah, i still can't visualize that obesity became hindrance when all they need to do is operating an unmanned drones remotely.

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Gerowen    1,090

yeah, i still can't visualize that obesity became hindrance when all they need to do is operating an unmanned drones remotely.

They still have to pass PT tests, regardless of MOS (MOS meaning job).  You take PT tests every 6 months (or annually at a minimum).  If you fail any part of a PT test, including the weigh in afterward, you get flagged and cannot receive any favorable action.  That includes promotions, awards, etc.  You could run headlong into enemy fire to rescue fallen comrades, and if you are flagged, you cannot be awarded or officially recognized for that action.  The award can be written later and granted if you pass your PT test at a later date, but only after you've passed your PT test.

 

The problem is not that soldiers are dying as a result of their lack of physical fitness, it's that young people who want to join the military are unable to meet the physical fitness standards to get in, and/or are unable to meet the more stringent requirements that apply once you graduate basic training, and are therefore being chaptered out later.

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cork1958    1,044

"More than two-thirds of America's youth would fail to qualify for military service because of physical, behavioral or educational shortcomings"

 

I guess those educational short comings are saying the same thing as how flat out stupid most kids are now a days!

 

You know most kids can't even tell time using an old fashioned analog clock? I've asked at least 50 of the kids my kid went to school with and I think 4 of them could tell time using that type clock!

 

I'll go along with that Nintendo comment above some what also. Between brain dead kids playing games, glued to their phones and Facebook crap, most are truely dumber than a box of rocks!

 

Bet most couldn't even qualify to be an 11B or 11C in todays Army!

 

I know I wouldn't want any of todays kids covering my back if I were still in the service!

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neoadorable    405

Time for the robot army to make its appearance

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Geoffrey B.    1,414

When I started to fall on bad times I went to the Military thinking it would be my salvation however, i fail 107 of their Medical Criteria so i was not allowed on that basis alone.

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Shiranui    1,643

Raise a garden, go deer hunting, play ball, be physically active with your kids on a regular basis.

Come on kids, let's go and kill Bambi!!

I'm with you as far as encouraging kids to be more active, but we part ways where choice of activity is concerned.

Personally, I would be devastated if my son decided he wanted to enlist so he could put his life on the line in a pointless, futile war in a far-off land.

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Brandon C.    116

Honestly, I'm fine with those numbers. Only ~1% of the population are in the military and even with the ones that can serve, some of them fail to adapt and I've seen it.

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robertwnielsen    62

I've tried three different times to enlist, and been denied each time. Now, of course, at nearly 44, I'm too old, but I figured I had a valid excuse if they ever reinstated the draft:

 

"Look. I volunteered, three times, and you wouldn't take me! What in the !*%& makes you think I'm gonna go now?" :D

 

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McKay    3,695

Would they lower standards if they called people up on the draft? Because a tactical tattoo sounds like a perfect get out clause :D

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+LogicalApex    1,745

I've tried three different times to enlist, and been denied each time. Now, of course, at nearly 44, I'm too old, but I figured I had a valid excuse if they ever reinstated the draft:

 

"Look. I volunteered, three times, and you wouldn't take me! What in the !*%& makes you think I'm gonna go now?" :D

 

You're not eligible to be called up in a draft, if it were to ever happen again, past the age of 26 (barring a law change).

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x-scratch    134

you sure this is correct???  my nephew who is in the army had his ears gauged and is now over in germany until 2016

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neoadorable    405

Really depends on the situation, selective service means that essentially any male within the boundaries of the US could be mandated into service, have an M16 thrust in their hands, and told to go fight. Obviously this isn't the case and hopefully it will never have to be. And why women are still expemt baffles me. Hey, i played Gone Home, i know all about that!

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Hum    6,928

Recruit illegal immigrants.

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Dane    176

I really wanted to go to the Army.   I am currently in the EMS Field. I wanted to be a Combat Medic.   

 

Never got through the full process because they said it would be really hard.  I have to lose 20-30ish pounds, and get a waiver because I was diagnosed with depression after my mom died and took xanax and anti depressants.

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robertwnielsen    62

You're not eligible to be called up in a draft, if it were to ever happen again, past the age of 26 (barring a law change).

 

 

Well, I guess I forgot those details. :)

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