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The US military grapples with a recruiting crisis. One Army vet says he knows why

The U.S. military missed its recruiting goals in 2023 by 41,000 and faces a recruiting crisis heading into the new year, according to a Pentagon official. 

Ashish Vazirani, the Pentagon’s acting undersecretary for personnel and readiness, told the House Armed Services Committee last week that 77% of today’s youth would not qualify for military service without some form of a waiver and 11% would not qualify because they are overweight. 

“Young people today are not rejecting military service; the challenge is that they are not even thinking about it,” Vazirani said, according to a transcript of his opening statement. “They are not looking at what we have to offer and telling us ‘no.’ They simply don’t K-N-O-W much about military service, and what they do know is probably not accurate or complete.”

ARMY MAKES PROGRAM TO SHAPE UP OVERWEIGHT RECRUITS PERMANENT AS IT FIGHTS ONGOING RECRUITING CRISIS

He also noted that Generation Z has “low trust in many institutions” from the government to the media and is “decreasingly following traditional paths.” 

Military leaders at the hearing said a competitive job market, declining eligibility and COVID-19 school closures impacted their ability to recruit, among other things.

In 1995, 40% of U.S. youth ages 16 to 24 had a parent who served in the military, but by 2022, only 12% had a parent who served, Vazirani added. 

AMERICA’S VETERANS CAN INSPIRE THE NEXT GENERATION TO SERVE

Jake Bequette, an Army veteran and former NFL player, said it was “painful” hearing the statistics about military recruitment. 

Bequette said he wouldn’t “lay a lot of the blame on America’s youth” but would place some of it on Democrats and people on the left for “really downgrading and insulting, frankly, people from middle America.” 

“From Hillary Clinton calling them deplorables to… Joe Biden calling them MAGA Americans,” he said Monday on “The Story.”

The former Arkansas Senate candidate added that people from red and rural states, or the “good old boys,” are the people who do a lot of “bleeding and sweating and living and dying in the U.S. military over the many generations of our proud military history.” 

Bequette said it shouldn’t be surprising when multi-generational military families choose different career paths because some people in government are “denigrating” them.

Host Martha MacCallum played a TikTok video of several Army recruits saying they didn’t know why they joined or that the reason they did was because they hated themselves. 

Bequette argued education plays a role in shaping young people’s perception of the military and the country. 

“In our education system today, so few young people are hearing that real history,” he said. “You know, they’re hearing our American heroes being represented as evil racists and, you know, people who were doing all these terrible things to disadvantaged people. And that really, I think, is shaping the views of America’s youth and making them have less respect for our institutions, have less respect for our history, and therefore making them less liable to, you know, want to put their lives potentially on the line to serve in our country’s military.” 

 

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