A study commissioned by Mission: Readiness, a bi-partisan national security organization of over 600 retired admirals, generals, and other retired senior military leaders calling for smart investments in America’s children, shows that Texan kids are unfit for military service.
Although the study was conducted in one state, Texas, the trend and analysis extends to other states where today’s school kids are too fat, too frail, and out of breath to fight in a conflict anywhere in the world.
In the study, nearly one in three young Americans is too overweight to serve, one of the leading reasons why 73 percent of Texas’ young adults cannot serve in the military; nearly seven percent of young Texans currently have asthma, which disqualifies them from serving in the military without a waiver, and obesity and lack of exercise can contribute to asthma and other respiratory problems.
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Furthermore, the study revealed that more than 60 percent of non-deployed active duty service members experience a sprain, stress fracture, or other musculoskeletal injury each year due in part to years of low calcium intake, lack of long-term exercise habits and/or excess weight. The military is spending billions treating these injuries among active duty personnel and veterans.
“In the event of a national emergency, if we have to mobilize millions of young people today, we would have a crisis on our hands because a lot of those young people are not fit to join the military service,” said retired Army Brig. Gen. Joe E. Ramirez Jr., a Mission: Readiness member, who is also commandant of Texas A&M University’s Corps of Cadets. “Each year, it seems to get worse and worse in terms of overall readiness and fitness of our young people.”
“We are advocating on a statewide level, on a legislative level, for better PE programs and healthy meals at schools, which was put in at a federal level in 2012, so 100 percent of Texas schools are serving healthy meals,” said Joseph McMahan, the Texas state director of Mission: Readiness. “We also advocate for safer roads and routes to encourage kids to walk and bike more.”
“What we have to do is get out there and educate the public about what it takes to raise physically fit young men and women who can be eligible for military service,” said General Ramirez. “I’m not saying that over time we couldn’t get them there, but in many cases today, we don’t have the luxury to take months or years to get young people in shape.”
The authors of the report, Bill Christeson, Kara Clifford, Amy Dawson Taggart, Joseph McMahan, Chris Beakey, Sara Hutton, and David Osborne stated, “Throughout America’s history, when military leaders have said it is time for a major change, the country has stepped forward to take action. Too many children are overweight and have weak bones or underdeveloped lungs. Prioritizing changes in schools and communities that promote physical education and activity are the right steps for Texas’ future. National security is at stake. It is time to act.”
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