For America’s volunteer army, fully 75% of the country’s 17-to-24 year olds need not apply because they:
- have medical/physical problems, 35%
- use Illegal drug use, 18%
- have Mental Category V (the lowest 10% of the population), 9%
- have too many dependents under age 18, 6%
- have a criminal record, 5%
That is the finding from a report entitled “Ready, Willing and Unable to Serve.” It comes after the military had one of its best recruiting years since the draft ended in 1973, reports Fox News. During the budget year that ended Sept. 30, the military met all of its recruiting goals and had a higher quality of recruit than in years past. About 95% of all Army recruits had a high school diploma, up from 83% the year before.
Military officials say their recent success is due to increased spending on recruiting and bonuses, which in the Army went from an average of less than $8,000 in 2000 to more than $18,000 in 2008. A dismal economy, which drove up civilian unemployment, helped fill the ranks as well. But in its report, the group warns that “a weak economy is no formula for a strong military. Once the economy begins to grow again, the challenge of finding enough high-quality recruits will return.”
One of the main reason recruits don’t qualify for the service is inadequate education. One in four between the ages of 17 and 24 does not have a high school diploma, according to the report. And many who do still fail the military’s version of the SAT, known as the Armed Forces Qualification Test.
Asthma, eyesight and hearing problems are also factors. But about a third of all potential recruits can’t join is because they’re too fat and out of shape.