Pentagon: Young Adults Too Fat, Tattooed, Uneducated for Military

The American military is facing a serious personnel issue: More than two-thirds of today’s youth are too uneducated, have behavior issues, and are not physically fit enough for
service.

“We’re trying to make decision makers see this is a national-security matter — and they need to prioritize it,” retired Maj. Gen. Allen Youngman told The Wall Street Journal.

The major problem is obesity, reports military recruiters. But young adults are also being turned away because they lack high school diplomas, have felony convictions, and are on prescription drugs for ailments such as attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder.

Still more do not meet the military’s appearance standards. New rules issued in March forbid large-scale tattoos or more than four visible on a soldier’s arms or legs. Tattoos are forbidden on other parts of the body not covered by a uniform.

In addition, potential recruits are being turned away because of extreme piercings, such as ear gauges that create large holes in people’s earlobes.

As a result, the Defense Department estimates, about 71 percent of the 34 million young adults ages 17 to 24 would not be able to enlist if they tried, not counting people turned away for tattoos or other cosmetic issues.