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Retired General: Military's Recruitment Problem is Everyone's Problem

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Retired military leaders in Missouri spearhead the effort to educate lawmakers on the link between quality preschool and a better prepared military and workforce. (Pixabay)
Retired military leaders in Missouri spearhead the effort to educate lawmakers on the link between quality preschool and a better prepared military and workforce. (Pixabay)
 By Trimmel Gomes - Producer, Contact
January 18, 2018

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — The Department of Defense estimates that 71 percent of the roughly 34 million 17- to 24-year-olds in the United States would fail to qualify for enlistment in the military.

Officials are sounding the alarm and bringing their message to Missouri lawmakers, calling for an investment in early-childhood education. Missouri state Sen. Wayne Wallingford co-hosted an event near the Capitol, where retired general Frank Grass with Mission Readiness explained why so many of today's youths are unfit to serve.

"Primarily because of poor education, obesity, drug abuse and criminal record,” Grass said. “So these 720 military retired generals and admirals, we all are concerned about that because that is a readiness issue for the future."

Grass said many of these problems stem from a lack of investment in programs that support early childhood development. Grass is encouraging lawmakers to find ways to turn the trend around.

Mission Readiness pulls together retired admirals and generals with a focus on strengthening national security by ensuring kids stay in school, stay fit and stay out of trouble. Wallingford said not too long ago, the military was a place to go to improve and sharpen skills. But today the bar has been raised.

"They were more lenient, you could go in and hopefully get their life turned around and learn some skills that they could go out into the civilian workforce and use those skills,” Wallingford said. “But unfortunately, it's getting harder and harder for people to get admitted to the services. So it's a real problem."

Mission Readiness is advocating for increased funding and to foster and establish more collaboration with local early-care and education providers throughout Missouri.

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