Tattoos, Prescription Drugs, Obesity Hinder Army Reserves Recruitment Effort

The majority of potential Army reservists are either hooked on prescription drugs, have too many tattoos, are overweight or have mental conditions that prohibit them from joining the military, recruiters say.

Seven out of 10 applicants — who return to their civilian lives after training, but can be called into active service at any time — fail to meet Army Reserve standards on “mental, moral and physical reasons,” said Capt. Eric Connor, U.S. Army Reserve Command spokesman.

The problem affects the broader service as well. According to Army Recruiting Command statistics compiled last year, 71 percent of young people wanting to join the military would fail to pass service tests because of their physical, moral or cognitive shortcomings.

These problems are worsening even as the Defense Department wants in the coming year to add thousands of members to every branch of the service, both the active forces and the reserves, a plan that will place additional pressure on recruiters who must operate with smaller budgets.