More than two-thirds of America’s teens over the age of 17 who apply do not qualify for the armed services today because they are too fat, too stupid, too crazy, too criminal, too sick or too ugly.
The Wall Street Journal reports that “the Defense Department estimates 71 percent of the roughly 34 million 17- to 24-year-olds in the United States would fail to qualify to enlist in the military if they tried.” That figure doesn’t even include those who are turned away because of the size, visibility and garishness of their tattoos or the size of the holes in their earlobes.
Most of those who are rejected from joining the military are sent down because they are obese — so obese that they are a danger to themselves or to others, and probably would not be able to handle the physical, mental and emotional rigors of military service. Many also are turned away for mental health reasons, and for illegal drug dependency. They can’t be insulin-dependent diabetics, nor can they be on drugs for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder in the past 12 months.
Candidates for enlistments must have no felony convictions.
They have to score a minimum of 33 out of 99 on the Armed Forces Qualification Test, which assesses English, math, science and cognitive skills. They also either have to have a high school diploma or GED with some college credits.
Does that mean those who aren’t eligible for military employment might be eligible for civilian employment? Some could wind up in college — especially community colleges, where physical standards aren’t as important. But don’t look for military washouts in the fire services, or police agencies or in other employment where physical and mental fitness are important.
However, some requirements can always be waived in the event of an emergency, and if the draft were reinstated, which it hasn’t been since 1973. Until that happens, though, people ineligible for military service can probably expect to be underemployed unless they can finish college or learn a valuable trade that they can handle.