Tribune-Democrat: Retired brass warn too many young people aren’t up to snuff to join military
November 12, 2019 By John Finnerty

Retired military officers joined the governor Tuesday to call for increased early childhood education spending and fairer school funding to help increase the number of high school students capable of meeting the requirements to join the Armed Services.

Seventy-one percent of Pennsylvanians, aged 17-24, aren’t eligible to join the military either because they have a criminal record, or they don’t have a high school diploma, can’t pass the entrance exam or don’t meet the physical health requirements, according to a report released Tuesday by Mission: Readiness, an organization comprised of 700 retired generals and admirals.

“If we do not address this trend, we will risk not having a sufficient pool of talented recruits to serve in our military or in our civilian work force in the future,” said Retired Army Lt. General Dennis Benchoff, a Lancaster resident.

When willingness to serve is factored into the equation, the numbers are even starker. In May, the U.S. Department of Defense estimated that only 2% of young people nationwide are eligible “and have a propensity to serve.”

Low unemployment, coupled with competition from private employers, translated into the U.S. Army missing its 2018 recruiting goal by 8.5%, according to the Mission: Readiness report.

“I am committed to making investments in education at all ages to help ensure we provide Pennsylvanians with the skills needed for every open job and that includes positions with the Pennsylvania National Guard and all branches of the military,” Gov. Wolf said. “These investments start in the earliest years of life, when children are learning soft skills such as teamwork, time management and good communication.”

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