Between the health, education, and life-choice standards, America’s youth are not measuring up. As a group, Americans are too fat, too dumb, too drugged, and/or make too many “bad” choices to join up. Since the President seems determined to continue to involve the military in protracted conflicts, even those he doesn’t have a strategy in place for, we’re left with few options as a nation.
A national draft, which is what we should have had for the GWOT, is a political non-starter. Lowering standards is a possibility, but the results would be disastrous. We could try to expand the program that allows immigrants to serve in the military and earn US citizenship, but that would create a de facto mercenary military that the American public will care even less about than it does the military we currently have. We could make our military smaller, but our elected leaders aren’t cutting our requirements.
…or, we could take a more fundamental approach. Kids in school need to be more physically active, and parents need to be more involved. With better education and more accountability from parents, educators, AND THE CHILDREN THEMSELVES, a lot of the problems that prevent people from joining the military—physical, mental, and social—will tend to work themselves out over the long run.
If America has a huge pool of young people who are physically fit, highly educated, mentally stable, law-abiding, and socially competent and we STILL can’t get them to join the military… well, that might be a good problem to have. But right now, the problem for the military is a problem for all of us. We all need to start doing something about it.