Ready, Willing, and Unable to Serve


Publication Date: June 2010

Publisher: Mission: Readiness

Author(s): Mission: Readiness

Research Area: Education; Government; Health; Military and defense

Keywords: prekindergarten; early education; military readiness; accessions

Type: Report

Coverage: United States


Americans have always answered the call to military service. Hundreds of thousands of young men and women throughout America have put their lives on the line in both Afghanistan and Iraq, and served with honor on humanitarian and other missions around the world.
Unfortunately, many young Americans who want to join cannot. Startling statistics released by the Pentagon show that 75 percent of young people ages 17 to 24 are currently unable to enlist in the United States military. Three of the most common barriers for potential recruits are failure to graduate high school, a criminal record, and physical fitness issues, including obesity.
The United States military requires rigorous eligibility standards because it needs competent, healthy and educated individuals to staff the world’s most professional and technologically-advanced military. The best aircraft, ships and satellite-guided weaponry alone will not be enough to keep our country strong. To ensure a strong, capable fighting force for the future, America’s youth must succeed academically, graduate from high school, be fit, and obey the law. That is why retired senior military leaders are joining together to launch Mission: Readiness.
The most proven investment for kids who need help graduating from high school starts early: high-quality early education. It also helps kids stay away from crime and succeed in life.
Our recommendation to state and federal policymakers is to ensure that America’s children have access to high-quality early education. That is the best way to make certain that more young Americans will meet the tough standards of the United States military should they choose to serve. A strong commitment today to high-quality early education will keep America strong and safe tomorrow.