Some retired military leaders have suggested the way to improve national security is to slim down America’s youth — and teach them to read.
Allison Linn reports for NBC News that the US Army has announced that three-fourths of today’s 17-24 year-old young people can’t meet fitness levels required for entering the military; or don’t meet necessary requirements like high school diplomas or the ability to read and write in a proper manner; or have a criminal record.
More than 400 retired admirals and generals have joined together to create Mission: Readiness, a non-profit which is part of the Council for Strong America. Funding for the organization comes from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and many others. In a report entitled “Too Fat to Fight”, they are declaring war on junk food in school cafeterias; lobbying for improved school lunches; and advocating for increasing the number of pre-K education opportunities for American students.
“If you have a very small (group) who are interested to begin with, and then the majority are not qualified, you can get into a pickle quickly,” retired Major General D. Allen Youngman said.
Delilah “Rita” Works, Major General. U.S. Air Force (Retired) writes in the Memphis Commercial Appeal of the importance of early childhood education.
I will continue to join fellow Mission: Readiness members in making quality preschool a top priority for ensuring all children start school “ready to learn” so they stay on track for long-term academic success. It is a smart investment for policymakers, parents, and everyone who cares about the future of our children and our future national security as well.
The military is doing its part in the fight against obesity by improving nutrition for its current service members and by encouraging military families to provide a nutritious diet for their children.
Although it has been proposed that there will be a reduction of military personnel, after the lengthy engagements in Afghanistan and Iraq, and as military war efforts become increasingly technological, the military is still going to need fit and healthy soldiers in the next generation. Even if hand-to-hand combat is decreased, service members will have to remain healthy just to do their normal jobs of climbing ladders on ships, lifting heavy ammunition, and staying alert and focused.
Ryan White, reporting for the Digital Journal, adds that military leaders, government agencies, and families are going to have to change their attitudes about training young people. General Youngman stated:
“Gone are the days when high school dropouts could show up and expect the military to whip them into shape. This is a very, very different military now.”
Having leaders take a stand on these issues has surprised many, but with one in four young Americans too overweight to serve in the military; with $1 billion a year being spent on weight-related sicknesses; and with 25% not able to pass the military’s entrance exam, it is understandable that defense leaders assigned the responsibility of guarding our country are afraid that this problem will soon become a national security issue.