Recent Study Shows a Majority of Americans are too Fat and Dumb to Join the Military

DVIDSHUB, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Last year, the Pentagon had to grapple with quite a few negative headlines. The most alarming repetitive headline was that recruiting goals were not met across the board.

Of course, one might think that isn’t a big deal given that we have pulled out of Afghanistan and aren’t technically in an active war with anyone. That is, if you ignore the ‘secret wars’ in Syria and Iraq and our proxy war with Russia in Ukraine, but I digress. This news rightly rocked legislators and should concern Americans at large because of our increased tensions with China, which seems to be inevitably heading toward a future war.

However, let’s say you think the prospects of us finding ourselves in a hot war, like Afghanistan or a conflict with China, are slim to null. The fact that most young Americans couldn’t join the military if they wanted to should matter to every American, as it directly reflects the type of society we currently elevate.

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A Fat System

A recent study has found that 77% of Americans between the ages of 17 and 24 are physically unqualified to join the armed services, up 6% from 2017. To put that into simpler terms, over three-quarters of Americans within the prime military recruitment ages are too fat to raise their right hand to serve.

Look at those two statistics I mentioned again. It might be bad now, but that same demographic was just as fat and unqualified six years ago. 

According to 2020 numbers, 42% of American adults are considered obese, with 19% on active duty falling into that category. That number is up from 16% of obesity in the active duty force in 2015.

Ironically, some of the blame, according to experts, falls on a food insecurity program many active duty and young Americans are forced to participate in. For example, the United States Department of Agriculture found in 2015 that 40% of participants in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) are obese. 

An estimated 22,000 Active Duty and over 250,000 National Guard families receive SNAP benefits. For those of us familiar, that means a whole lot of government cheese and other processed food.

RELATED: Record-Breaking Defense Budget Still Does Nothing to Help Soldiers Who Can’t Afford Enough Food

Economic Obesity

Anybody who has tried to eat healthily knows it is costly and cumbersome. For example, research from Utah State University found that if a family of four were to grocery shop based on the healthy dietary guidelines, it would cost them approximately $14,400 annually.

My husband and I try very hard to eat and live healthy lives, and I can tell you we don’t spend that much on groceries per year as a family of four. On average middle-income families of four spend $6,224 a year, and low-income families spend $3,862 annually.

Senior UCLA clinical dietitian Dana Hunnes points out, “We need a system that reduces the cost of healthy, unprocessed foods and makes it easier for people to afford and access them.” But, of course, that’s true for on-base options as well.

I spent 20 years in the service and was stationed at ten installations. The options on base range from the obligatory Burger King to the nondescript pizza place or bowling alley food court.

Maintaining a healthy diet while working 10-12 hour days, sometimes shift work depending on your job, and countless mounting obligations surrounded by the Whopper and greasy pizza is almost impossible. But Americans aren’t just too fat to join; they are also too dumb and naughty.

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Idiocracy, a Documentary

The recruiting dilemma facing the military, like most issues plaguing the Armed Forces, is multifaceted. Army Lt. Gen. Xavier Brunson explains, “Some of the challenges we have are obesity, we have pre-existing medical conditions, we have behavioral health problems, we have criminality, people with felonies, and we have drug use.”

That’s a pretty damning yet accurate depiction of America’s youth. Additionally, many Americans need help to pass the education standards the Armed Forces require. 

Often joked as a test you get half credit for if you can spell your name right, the Armed Forces Qualification Test (AFQT) is used to see if you are smart enough to wear the uniform and what jobs you might have a natural aptitude for. According to security analyst Irina Tsukerman, “falling intelligence and education standards” have made the military less prepared for “asymmetrical or conventional challenges.”

The Navy is tossing around the idea of lowering the minimum scores for acceptance on the AFQT and increasing the age ceiling from 35 to 41. 

Lowering standards might increase the number of recruits, but what about the quality? The Army is opting to keep its standards but has stood up what they call the Future Soldier’s Prep Course at Fort Jackson to get recruits whose scores are too low up to snuff.

Glad someone is attempting to educate America’s youth because the Department of Education sure doesn’t seem to care.

RELATED: With Military Recruitment In The Red, Will ‘Top Gun: Maverick’ Provide The Same Bump As The 1986 Original?

Old News

Of course, none of this is new information. In 2018, analyst Mark Perry said of our Armed Forces that “while the U.S. military represents the best in America [as its most senior officials claim], it doesn’t actually represent America.” 

What did Mr. Perry mean? “For that to be true, two thirds of our military would have to consist of obese, under educated former drug users and convicted criminals.” 

Ouch, talk about a damning portrait of America. Of course, it’d be easy to blame this on politics. Still, this fattening up, dumbing down, and civilized bankruptcy of America has been happening for decades across both Republican and Democrat administrations. 

The Centers for Disease Control classifies obesity as a security threat stating that 1 in 5 kids and 2 in 5 adults are obese. With American kids graduating high school without knowing how to read or do simple math, I’d argue our public education system is also a security threat. 

Army Brigadier Gen. Patrick Michaelis said, “Since the all-volunteer force was established in 1973, this is the hardest Recruiting Command has had to work to meet recruiting goals.” If I were you, I would take that as a warning; it might not be long until we have to institute a draft again.

Lt. Gen. Brunson bit back at critics of the military recruitment efforts, rightly stating, “this is not an Army problem, so nationally what we have to look at is what’s going on with our youth.” Indeed, what is going on?

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USAF Retired, Bronze Star recipient, outspoken veteran advocate. Hot mess mom to two monsters and wife to equal parts... More about Kathleen J. Anderson

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