A recent article written by a former Secretary of Defense and supported by other military insiders points to a very troubling trend that our military recruiters are failing to meet their recruitment goals. This alarming development is not new, but it is having a detrimental effect on national security due to the slow decline of the all-volunteer forces of the US Armed Forces, which today represent less than 1 percent of the American population, who courageously defend and protect our country. freedoms around the world.
The reasons for this decline in the military’s inability to meet its annual recruitment goals are troubling, reasons that are not temporary but are becoming more and more embedded in the fabric of our nation. As stated in the above article, these reasons include insufficient pay and benefits, physical and mental health problems, and criminal activity.
The number of Americans today aged 17-24 who are qualified and interested in joining the military continues to decline. Recent statistics show that of the 34 million young men between the ages of 17 and 24, 71 percent are ineligible for military service, largely due to obesity, drug use, physical and mental health problems, and criminal records. And of the roughly 23 percent who would be eligible to serve, another 10 percent do not meet the Army’s academic standards. In addition to these staggering statistics, the article states that only a small number of people are inclined to serve in our Armed Forces.
What is the response to this disturbing development? The suggestion that the draft, which ended in 1973, may need to be reinstated does not solve the problem, given that more than 70 percent of potential draftees, based on current analysis, do not even meet the requirements for service if drafted.
There are several proposals for how to reverse this troubling development, and none of them will come too soon. As the article points out, those proposals include: creating a bipartisan commission of respected leaders to focus on key issues to increase the number of young people qualified for service and to increase their interest in it; seek ways to improve the health and fitness of America’s youth; expand JROTC nationally; provide military recruiters with access to high schools across the country; and to ensure that our educational institutions promote programs that instill in our youth the motivation to give back and serve our country.
More than a million fellow citizens have made the ultimate sacrifice to protect and preserve the freedoms we all enjoy today. To solve this important problem, lowering qualification standards is not the solution. Propagation of the virtue of patriotism and instilling in our youth the desire to serve the Motherland is the beginning and should be the ultimate goal.
May God bless our men and women who serve in today’s armed forces who protect us day and night, and their families who miss them when they are away from home. And to all our veterans who have served and sacrificed in the past, thank you.