YORK, Pa. — The numbers are staggering: Seventy-one percent of young people are ineligible to join the military, according to 2017 Pentagon data. The reasons: obesity, no high school diploma or a criminal record.
The problem isn’t just a military one, though: It’s an issue for businesses as well because the vast majority of that age group isn’t eligible for many jobs either, said retired Rear Admiral Thomas Wilson.
That’s why Wilson recently raised the issue at a gathering of business and community leaders in York County, Pennsylvania. The 29 percent of 17- to 24-year-olds who are qualified become prime targets for all recruiting: military, college and jobs.
Wilson calls it “a war for the qualified.” Steve Doster, Pennsylvania State director of Military Readiness for Council for a Strong America, agrees it’s a problem.
“This is a very real risk to our national security,” Doster said.