By Wendell P. Simpson
In a shocking study that found 75 percent of young Americans are too uneducated, too obese and too immoral to serve in the United States military, the young people of Philadelphians scored the absolute worst in the nationwide testing..
According to the report compiled by Mission: Readiness, a non-profit assessment group composed of 145 former military leaders, ninety percent of Philadelphia 18 to 24 year-olds, are ineligible for military service because of criminal records, poor physical condition and educational unsuitability. The numbers equal to 145,000 disqualified young Philadelphians; statewide, the number is close to one million.
The US military’s requirements for service induction, while hardly stringent, are much more rigid today than during previous times. The minimum requirements are a high school diploma, no criminal record and the ability to pass physical fitness standards.
Mission: Readiness is alarmed by the trend. The group’s national director, Amy Taggert, said that while the military does meet its annual recruitment goal, the trend is a discomforting indicator of where the m9ilitary might be down the road.
“Recruiters are experiencing more challenges in meeting goals—and hand our many more waivers—because too few candidates for service meet the requirements,” said Taggert.
The group said that military readiness should be a top domestic priority. It is asking for state a federal money for youth programs that would provide young Pennsylvanians with a foundation for academic achievement, good health and physical fitness awareness and personal success, with the ultimate goal of broadening the pool of Philadelphians who might avail themselves of career opportunities in the military services..
In mid-June, a collection of Philadelphia officials, civic leaders and Philadelphia area former military commanders, including Taggert, DA Seth Williams, who also serves as a Judge Advocate in the U.S. Army Reserves, and Dr. Eugene Robinson, a Philadelphia educator and retired Tuskegee Airman, among a cadre of current and retired military brass, convened at the old Armory in Center City Philadelphia to express their concerns and to lobby the Pennsylvania State Legislature for funding continuance as well as programs geared specifically toward ares of underdevelopment in urban communities.
Said Williams, “There’s a direct relationship between the lack of education, the lack of economic opportunity and too many young people feeling they have lives of hopelessness, frustration and despair.”