Or rather, America’s kids are still too fat to get sent off to die. It’s been about two years since Mission: Readiness, an organization of retired military leaders promoting certain Nanny State school reforms, warned that a quarter of 17- to 24-year-olds were too fat to be useful to the military.
Greg Beato wrote about the first study by Mission: Readiness for Reason in December 2010 (pointing out that a third of draftees in the Korean War were rejected for health reasons). They’re back in the news with a new report about to be released that sounds about the same as the last one: American kids are too fat. We must reform school lunches so that kids lose weight. (Their initial report (pdf) also lobbied for stronger pre-kindergarten programs, indicating what this whole little study was really about: More federal education spending.)
CNN’s reporting of the new study focuses on one Mercedes Lipscomb, who was rejected from the National Guard for being 80 pounds overweight. She lost the weight on her own. First of all, good for her. Second of all, way to point out that this problem does not require government intervention.
More to the point, CNN’s reporting goes on about the cost to the military ($60 million) to have to replace overweight recruits that are unable to complete their service, which means the military is apparently letting in some of these 25 percent. Another full 50 percent of young Americans are disqualified due to poor education and criminal records, but you won’t find any suggestions of charter schools or legal reform (the early education programs are supposed to solve these problems).
Of course, nobody suggests the idea that maybe the problem isn’t that Americans are too fat, but rather the military is stretched too thin and trying to do too much. Why is it not enough that 25 percent of the U.S. is capable of military service? That’s 78 million people. In 2010, America had 1.5 million on active duty and 848,000 in reserves. We have more than enough people in America who qualify to serve in the military. Maybe the problem is what America has been doing with its military that is keeping qualified applicants away? Why isn’t that part of the discussion, rather than treating America’s children as though they’re military property that parents aren’t properly maintaining?