77 percent of young adults in the US are not eligible for the service without a waiver due to three primary issues: being overweight, drug use or having mental problems. The Pentagon’s data exhibits a six percent increase from prior 2017 Department of Defense research which stated ineligibility of 71 percent.

“When considering youth disqualified for one reason alone, the most prevalent disqualification rates are overweight (11%), drug and alcohol abuse (8%), and medical/physical health (7%),” the study read. Conducted by the Pentagon’s office of personnel and readiness, the research examined young adults in the US, ages 17 to 24.

Accounting for 44 percent, most youth were disqualified for a combination of several reasons. Four percent were eliminated for mental health, while conduct, aptitude, or being a minor accounted for one percent each.

The dismal statistics illustrate an ever-shrinking pool of eligible young adults, plaguing military recruitment efforts in most branches of the service.

“There are many factors that we are navigating through, such as the fact that youth are more disconnected and disinterested compared to previous generations,” Maj. Charlie Dietz, a Department of Defense spokesman said. “The declining veteran population and shrinking military footprint has contributed to a market that is unfamiliar with military service resulting in an overreliance of military stereotypes.”

Policymakers have been sounding the alarm over the recruiting environment in the recent past. Widespread ineligibility of many Americans contributing to readiness problems is a worry of the Senate Armed Services Committee.

The Council for a Strong American, an organization compiled of retired military officers and law enforcement which advocates for healthier lifestyles and better nutrition among adolescents, issued a press release, calling on lawmakers to act so new generations will be eligible for the service.

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