Well, the time has come to put the high school recruiting episodes of the blog to bed! It has been insightful to read what all of you had to say on the 30 or so sites that posted the blog and asked for your feedback. WOW! For your viewing pleasure (or displeasure), I am posting the final product here. In the end I kept it simple. I based it on what I know to be true and what I could support. There is room for stronger arguments, but I'm just a guy working full time, taking care of my family, and taking way more classes than I have time for...UGH!...so I got it done in simple fashion and moved on. I hope you enjoy!
High School Recruiting
Terrence C. Hynes
Since July, 1973, our Armed Services have boasted the “All volunteer force”. All volunteer force must have been so named by someone, somewhere who never spent a few years or even a few days recruiting the great warriors who defend our country and our way of life. The term is misleading in that it implies a literal Army of good citizens wakes up every morning and stands in line at the local recruiting station in eager anticipation of the doors opening, so they can get a uniform and set about the business of defending our constitution. There is, I’m afraid, a little more to it than that! A more accurate phrase to describe today’s military would be all recruited force. The military must recruit in high schools in order to maintain the all volunteer force that prevents the unwilling from being drafted into service. At the high school age there are fewer life-long disqualifying factors, they can be motivated to graduate on time by a commitment to service, and they are at the right age to achieve maximum physical fitness.
First, military recruiting in high schools is important because, according to Smith (2009) “Only about three out of ten American youth between the ages of 17 and 24 are fully qualified for military service.” These factors include education, body mass index, health issues, mental test abilities, moral background, tattoos, drug use, medication history and citizenship. As young people successfully complete high school and move forward in life, several of the above disqualifying factors can be compounded with time. After age 24 the rate of applicants qualified for military service drops to just one in ten. Assuming that not every qualified person in the nation will elect to serve their country, the available pool of prospects would fall to a number less that the annual requirement to adequately provide for the national defense.
Next, recruiters need to work with high school aged Americans because the first step in conditioning future enlistees is ensuring they understand graduating from high school, on time, is a condition of service. As dropout rates increase in many states, according to Hawley (2009), “We cannot allow today's dropout crisis to become a national security crisis.” When recruiters get a chance to talk with students, the message they spread is stay in school, stay out of trouble, and graduate on time. Few parents could argue against these themes. The recruiter’s presence in high schools is not aimed at immediate enlistments, but rather aimed at keeping America’s youth educated on qualifications for military service in the event they ever chose such an option. Only twenty percent of all enlistments occur during high school. The average enlistment takes place a full two years following high school, as young adults finally break free from the chains of peer pressure and negative influencers and start making decisions about their own future.
Finally, recruiting must take place in high schools to ensure that enlistees will be able to achieve maximum physical fitness during their term of service. One problem facing the military is the obesity epidemic among young people in America. According to the Youth Media Campaign Longitudinal Survey (2002), “Overweight and obesity in children are significant public health problems in the United States. The number of adolescents who are overweight has tripled since 1980 and the prevalence among younger children has more than doubled.” The study also stated that we are experiencing the highest obesity rates ever recorded among 6-19 year olds. These numbers are only expected to get worse. According to Kavey (2010), we need to be “very concerned for the future health of children, particularly when it comes to their risk of developing heart disease early in life as a result of obesity during childhood.” The current pace at which our children are getting obese will leave the nation short of enough qualified applicants to fill the ranks. A good high school recruiting program offers educational talks to students about healthy diet and exercise habits to ensure a healthier America whether students enlist or not.
In conclusion, America needs military recruiters performing their duties in high schools. The information given to students from recruiters is intended to build a stronger nation among all of society, not just those that chose to serve in the Armed Forces. Without the tireless dedication of recruiters educating people while they’re young, the country would be forced to enact the draft for the first time since 1973 in order to capture the few remaining qualified applicants to protect and serve our country and our way of life.
Smith D. (2009). 70 Percent of Young People are Unable to Enlist. Richmond-Time dispatch,Nov 2009.
Hawley, R.E. (2009). 70 Percent of Young People are Unable to Enlist. Richmond-Time dispatch, Nov 2009.
Youth Media Campaign Longitudinal Survey (2002)
Retrieved from http://aspe.hhs.gov/health/reports/child_obesity/
Kavey, R.E. (2010). ChildhoodObesity Epidemic Mainly Caused by Sugar-Loaded Drinks. JADA
Editorial, Nov 2010.
Until next time,