“75 percent of young people ages 17 to 24 are unable to enlist in the military because they fail to graduate high school, have a criminal record, or are physically unfit. In Kentucky, that would mean over 300,000 young adults cannot join. However, that may be a low estimate because, compared to the national average, Kentucky has more young people who are overweight, (37% vs. 32%).”
This shocking claim comes from a new group called “Mission Readiness: Military Leaders for Kids.”
The group has some interesting political overtones (at least one of the generals involved became highly political following military retirement), but the magnitude of the statistics this group quotes are truly incredible none-the-less.
The Mission Readiness statistics are supposedly based a non-political survey performed for the U.S. Army Center for Accessions Research by the Lewin Group in 2005. I have not been able to find the actual report on the Web, but several US Army Power Points indicate the 75 percent figure could be open to some interpretation if waivers were authorized. But, even so, the number of unqualified young adults is truly sobering.
By the way, the Mission Readiness crowd says the ‘fix’ for this is early learning programs for four year olds, conveniently dovetailing with a current effort in Congress to increase funding for those programs. We’ve been doing Pre-K for our poorest kids in Kentucky since KERA was enacted. That wasn’t long enough to have much impact on the 2005 study, but it will be interesting to see what happens as more kids from that group enter the 17 to 24 age group.