Rx Drugs and Obesity Hindering Army Recruitment Efforts

By May Wilkerson 02/26/15

A whopping 70% of reservists are banned from the military for "mental, moral and physical reasons."

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The majority of Army reservists are banned from entering the military due to addiction, mental health issues, being overweight or having tattoos, say recruiters. The problem is making it increasingly difficult for recruiters, who are expected to get thousands more service members on board in the upcoming year, the Washington Times reports.

Seven out of 10 army reservists are rejected from ​serving active duty for “mental, moral, and physical reasons” says Army Reserve Command spokesman, Capt. Eric Connor. And 71% of all young people wanting to join the military fail to make it into the reserve for the same reasons, according to recent numbers from the Army Recruiting Command.

The problem is worsening as the Defense Department hopes to increase the number of recruits in 2016 by up to 9,500. By the end of next year, recruiters are expected to persuade 39,860 men and women to join the reserves, according to army documents. Their job could get even tougher with the economy on the upswing, since more Americans are drawn to the military as a last resort during tough economic times.

“There’s lots of jobs out there, and now it looks like the military is not as involved in as many operations that seem exciting to 18-year-olds,” says Lt. Gen. David Barno, from American University’s School of International Service. “So it’s going to be very, very tough to recruit in that population. It’s going to be some really, really challenging times coming up for recruiters.”

But according to Capt. Connor, the Reserve’s greatest challenge lies in the “quality” of potential recruits. “Only 3 out of 10 people qualify for the Army Reserve, being disqualified because of mental, moral and physical reasons,” he says.

Recruiters have seen a rise in the number of applicants who are dependent on prescription drugs for behavioral issues, like ADD, and increasing numbers of people fail to meet the army’s weight standards. Others are rejected for having “too many” tattoos in visible places, like their forearms.

Some analysts say the military could remedy the problem by getting “more creative” in recruiting efforts, such as setting up a “preconditioning camp” where people would fail the physical test could undergo training to eventually meet health and wellness standards.

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May Wilkerson is a writer, comic and Managing Editor @someecards. Co-host of the podcast Crazy; In Bed w/alyssalimp. She is also the top Google result for "insufferable lunatic." Follow this insufferable lunatic on Twitter.