by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
Nearly three-quarters of young Americans are ineligible to serve in the United States military due to obesity, criminal record, or lack of education, according to a new report by the Heritage Foundation.
The contracted pool of Americans aged 17 to 24 who are fit to enlist in the armed services poses an “alarming” threat to national security and risks derailing the Trump administration’s path to rebuilding a depleted military, the report found, citing Pentagon data.
The Pentagon estimates that 24 million of the 34 million Americans between 17 and 24 years old, or 71 percent, are unable to serve.
Health problems are the greatest obstacle to military service, with more than half of the young people who are ineligible for service suffering from a health issue.
“The health of young Americans is getting worse, and it’s not just obesity—though that’s the biggest burden—but also growing asthma, joint problems, stuff like that,” retired Army Lt. Gen. Tom Spoehr, co-author of the Heritage paper told the Washington Free Beacon on Wednesday.
“You don’t have to be this lean, mean, fighting machine to enlist in the military. They’ll take people who are pudgy, but if you’re obese or severely overweight there’s just not enough time in the basic training process to get them where they need to be and there’s also a risk that they’ll injure themselves once you get them running and put all the equipment on them.”