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Vets Order Education and Fitness for MT Youth

PHOTO: With the growing waistlines of America's youth, hundreds of veterans across the nation are pushing for policies and investments to get young people active and healthy. Photo credit: Joe Goldberg/Flickr
PHOTO: With the growing waistlines of America's youth, hundreds of veterans across the nation are pushing for policies and investments to get young people active and healthy. Photo credit: Joe Goldberg/Flickr
May 29, 2014

MISSOULA, Mont. – A group of retired military leaders is calling it a matter of national security to improve the health and education of America's children.

"Mission: Readiness" is a coalition of some 400 retired generals, admirals and senior military leaders, including retired Brigadier General Denny Schulstad.

"What we are trying to do is encourage young people to, number one, get a good education," explains Schulstad. "Stay out of trouble with the law, and stay in some reasonable physical shape so that you are eligible to join the military."

According go the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), about 12 percent of Montana teens are overweight.

Schulstad says the growing number of young people who are overweight or obese is of great concern to the military because many potential recruits are not healthy enough to enlist.

He believes one way to reverse the trend and help get kids moving toward a healthier lifestyle is to promote and support programs that help provide them with safe routes to school.

"Today, only 13 percent of the young people either ride their bike or walk to school," Schulstad notes. "We would like very much to see that number increase because that is a very easy way to encourage kids to get outside – to walk, to run, to ride their bicycles."

Nationally, the CDC says adolescent obesity has quadrupled over the past 30 years.

Deborah Courson Smith/Deb Courson Smith, Public News Service - MT