According to a new report, recruits joining the Army are more physically unfit than ever before, costing the military service millions of dollars as it struggles to recover from its worst recruiting crisis in decades.
According to a study published in the Progress in Cardiovascular Diseases journal, the number of unfit Army recruits has increased, which has resulted in an alarming rate of injuries among soldiers undergoing initial entry training, creating yet another problem for a branch that already struggles to find enough recruits to fill the ranks.
Over 35% of initial-entry trainees experienced at least one musculoskeletal injury while in training, according to the study, which looked at recruits joining the Army during the 2017 fiscal year.
Women were more affected by the issue; 62% of female recruits experienced a musculoskeletal injury, compared to 32% of male recruits.
Even more troubling, the study discovered that recruits from the South, a traditional military recruiting hotspot, were more likely to have injuries while undergoing training, accounting for eight of the states with the poorest records for trainee injuries.
The report estimated that the Army spent $14.8 million on the problem in fiscal year 2017 alone.
The medical expenditures related to addressing the trainee injuries have accumulated.
Eight southern states, including Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, Tennessee, and North Carolina, were responsible for around $7.2 million of that expense.
The southern states were joined in the top 10 by New York and Rhode Island.
According to Spoehr, the South is the military’s best region for recruitment, but it also has some of the worst obesity rates and lowest levels of physical activity in the nation.
The Army is particularly hard-hit by the issue since the service is presently experiencing a recruiting crisis not seen since the transition to an all-volunteer organization over four decades ago.
The Army fell 15,000 soldiers shy of reaching its recruiting goal for the fiscal year 2022.
Yet enrolling recruits is only the first step in replenishing the Army’s ranks.
According to Spoehr, 10% of recruits will fail their initial entrance training; this percentage might rise as more unfit applicants try to join the military.
The Army recently announced an extension to a program that permits the service to enroll applicants who do not match the weight and ability standards and put them through a 90-day course intended to assist them achieve the level before basic training in response to the problem.
2,965 of the 3,206 participants in the course prior to the expansion completed it and moved on to basic training, making the program thus far a success.
To solve the problem, the Army still has to overcome formidable obstacles. The military’s shift to “woke” rules in place of preparedness, according to some opponents, has turned off many people who would have otherwise been ready to serve.