The US military faces an unprecedented recruitment crisis, with health, education, political and societal challenges undermining the force’s combat readiness against near-peer adversaries including China.
In March 2023, American Military News reported that a 2020 Pentagon study revealed that 77% of young Americans do not qualify for military service without a waiver due to drug abuse mental or physical problems, or being overweight.
The most prevalent disqualification rates were being overweight (11%), drug and alcohol abuse (8%) and medical/physical health (7%), with the most significant increases in disqualification estimates observed between 2013 and 2020 were for mental health and overweight conditions.
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