Home Editorials Most of today’s youth unprepared for military service

Most of today’s youth unprepared for military service

by David W. Marshall
David W. Marshall

(TriceEdneyWire.com) – The Latin phrase ‘nemo resideo’ or ‘leave no one behind’ goes back centuries, almost as far back as warfare itself. It is a concept that still has roots throughout our modern-day armed services. Today, the phrase, adopted by several arms of the armed forces, is often attributed to the elite U.S. Army Rangers, who included the language as part of their creed: “I will never leave a fallen comrade to fall into the hands of the enemy.” It represents how the U.S. military will go to extraordinary lengths to evacuate its wounded and recover its dead. It also illustrates how a soldier, while in their weakest and most vulnerable state, is still seen as valuable team member and should never be forgotten. How the human life of a serviceman is valued on the battlefield is the example we all should follow throughout society. In Maryland’s gubernatorial race, Wes Moore, the Democratic nominee, uses his military record and a pro-America agenda to remind voters that Republicans don’t hold a monopoly on patriotism. As the favorite to replace term-limited Republican Gov. Larry Hogan, Moore is a veteran of the U.S. Army 82nd Airborne Division. As a captain and paratrooper, he led soldiers in combat while in Afghanistan.

Moore grew up in a single-parent household and later joined the Army at 17. He received an associate degree from Valley Forge Military College and graduated from Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore. He earned a Rhodes scholarship and served as a White House Fellow in the Bush administration under Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. If elected, Moore will be the first Black governor in Maryland. The Army combat veteran said he takes patriotism “very, very seriously.” I look at my history where I was willing to put my life on the line for this country, and I would do it all over again because I believe in what this country is and what this country can be for so many other people.”

Following the end of the military draft in 1973, the U.S. armed services depends on a constant flow of new volunteers each year. Unlike Wes Moore at age 17, most of today’s 17 to 24-year-olds are ineligible for military service. Lt. Gen. Xavier Brunson, the head of the Army’s I Corps, was blunt in his criticism about military-age Americans. “Only 23% of the people that are of age to serve are actually qualified,” Brunson said, highlighting the need to look at what is happening to our youth because the issues are much wider than just the Army. “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 drug use,” he said. “This is not an Army problem, this is an American problem.”

Ready, Willing and Unable to Serve, a report by Mission: Readiness (a group of retired military and civilian leaders) found that one in four young people between the ages of 17 and 24 do not have a high school diploma. About 30% of those with a diploma still fail the Armed Forces Qualification Test, the entrance exam required to join the U.S. military. Another one in 10 young people cannot serve because of past convictions for felonies or serious misdemeanors, states the report. A full 27% are simply too overweight to join the military. Nearly 32% have disqualifying health problems, including asthma, eyesight or hearing problems, mental health issues, or recent attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder treatment. According to the report, that leaves only two out of 10 American young people fully eligible to join the military without special waivers.

“Imagine 10 young people walking into a recruiter’s office and seven of them getting turned away,” said former Under Secretary Joe Reeder in a press release. “We cannot allow today’s dropout crisis to become a national security crisis.”

It is not surprising that someone with a military background like Wes Moore has adopted ‘Leave Nobody Behind’ as their military-inspired campaign slogan. When we have reports showing over 70% of our young Americans are unqualified to serve in the military, it weakens the potential workforce for businesses and national security. It takes the child, parent, teacher, administrator, and community to play a direct or indirect role in our youth’s physical, social, educational, emotional, and spiritual development. When we have American soldiers who are lost or left behind in battle, they are eventually designated as MIA, or ‘missing in action.’ Today, far too many of our youth will be MIA when it comes to meeting the future military needs of our country.

(David W. Marshall is the founder of the faith-based organization, TRB: The Reconciled Body, and author of the book God Bless Our Divided America. He can be reached at <www.davidwmarshallauthor.com>.)

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