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Soldiers Turned Away From Serving in Military for Being Obese

by Adriana Velez on December 11, 2012 at 5:43 PM

army trainingWhat's the number-one reason why the Army rejects recruits? It's not for any misdeed, exactly. It's because of obesity. In the first 10 months of this year alone, the Army had to reject 1,625 soldiers because they couldn't meet the fitness standards. A whole 5.3 percent of the troops (86,186 people) were declared overweight or obese in 2010. And military leaders have been warning that Americans' battle of the waistline may be an issue of national security.

I can't imagine how humiliating it would feel to be rejected from the Army because of your weight. That must feel terrible. Is there really a health crisis in the Army, or is this more about budget cuts? If it's both, what can people do about it?

The Army evaluates its troops based on a strength and endurance tests and based on their height and weight measurements. And growing numbers of soldiers are struggling with that second evaluation. Some blame it on our sedentary American lifestyle. But some soldiers say they're gaining weight after injuries suffered in battle. Whether it's a broken knee or antidepressants to treat post-traumatic stress disorder, I think it's fair to say it may not be all your fault if you're cut from the Army due to your weight.

And then there's the issue of budget cuts. The Army has to cut tens of thousands of troops from the force in the next few years. So commanders are being told to take those fitness tests more seriously. If anything, the military seems to lower its health standards during the height of war -- in practice, anyway -- because it can't afford to be picky. But I wonder if that puts less-healthy troops at higher risk for injury? And ... isn't that backwards? Shouldn't troops be more fit during times of war than during relatively peaceful times?!?

Michelle Obama and Jill Biden's initiative Joining Forces (which helps bring support to military families) has said it will be focusing more on the health of troops this year and next. Is it going to be Let's Move meets Joining Forces? Probably not -- hopefully they'll focus on the specific health challenges soldiers have been talking about. If the Army still has to cut troops, maybe we'll get to the point where they have to find other reasons to reject soldiers.

Are you worried about soldiers being cut because they're not physically fit?

 

Image via DIVIDSHUB/Flickr

Filed Under: obesity, military

Comments

41
  • LoveM...
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    LoveMyKBabies

    December 11, 2012 at 5:53 PM
    My dad was kicked for being overweight. He was regular Army for 8 years then switched to the Guard. After my parents divorced, dad's weight steadily got higher & higher. He is 6'2" & was about 300 lbs when he was kicked out. He gained even more weight. My dad is now a little over 500 lbs, bad legs & diabetic. His battalion went to Iraq a few years ago & he was upset, yes he was worried about them...but he was more upset he wasn't with them. While I'm glad my dad wasn't sent over..he obviously had depression & the Army made it worse. Dad would still be proudly serving his country if he'd had more support from the military to kick him back into shape.
  • purpl...
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    purpleflower514

    December 11, 2012 at 6:02 PM

    @lovemybabies- it is not the military's job to kick anyone back into shape, it is the job of each man and woman serving to make sure they are meeting standards. My husband has been in the military for nearly 20 years and he is responsible enough to workout on a regular basis.

    To answer the question at the end of the post- These people should be kicked out of the military. It isn't that hard to maintain standards when it is part of your job. It is sheer laziness that makes these people gain weight.


  • shesl...
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    shesliketx

    December 11, 2012 at 6:08 PM
    During the war we need bodies. Plain and simple. People don't want overweight and out of shape people to rely on in a hard spot during combat, so of course standards are higher when a unit is in garrison because the soldiers have more time to dedicate to being fit. My husband has been in almost 5 years, he is a stocky guy but isn't in danger of losing his job. He does his pt 5 times a week and basically eats what he wants, but within reason.

    Soldiers should be held to a fitness standard. It's a good thing and it's there for a reason. The military gives them several chances to fix the problem.
  • Kaela...
    -- Facebook comment from

    Kaela Wheeler

    December 11, 2012 at 6:28 PM

    A relative of mine in the military just got back from boot camp where he was in charge of whipping new recruits into shape (which he's been doing for more than 20 years). He lamented that 1) Not only are the new recruits less and less likely to actually be physically fit and prepared for boot camp but that 2) The number one problem facing recruiters right now is the high percentage of teens that are too overweight to even be considered for military service. Yikes.


  • tuffy...
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    tuffymama

    December 11, 2012 at 7:03 PM
    It's probably WHAT they are eating just as much as anything. I agree with Purple that it isn't the military's place to Jenny Craig their people, but the shameful part of it is our own government is at fault for it, and all to pad their pockets. GMOs, pesticides, processed grains, nutrient-depleted farm soil, hormones and antibiotics in meats, and on and on... And look at the recommended eating plan! There is no way we need to eat that much grain! All this crap makes us fat, slow and stupid. And we're feeding kids this SHIT. Modern wheat is not food but a straight poison, engineered to destroy our guts and brains. Nobody needs to be eating this, least of all children and the infirm and injured.
  • tuffy...
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    tuffymama

    December 11, 2012 at 7:06 PM
    And to answer the question, yes, I'm concerned. I'm concerned about the people fighting pointless wars to begin with. At the end of every statistical point is a human being with a beating heart and a soul. I wish the military would overhaul their health guidelines and kids would stop eating crap and sitting on their butts with game controllers in their hands.
  • Flori...
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    Floridamom96

    December 11, 2012 at 7:22 PM
    It's the government's fault people are fat? Seriously? The military is a fighting force NOT a social organization.
  • Sierr...
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    SierraLynn

    December 11, 2012 at 8:06 PM
    Soldiers have more then one chance to lose the weight and get back within the standard before a chapter is even considerd. It's called remedial PT. Where you do PT (physical training) twice a day instead of just once.
    Depending on what you need to be withing the standard dictates the lenghth of time you are allotted to get in the standard. If progress is not made within X amount of time, the chapter process will be initiated.
    So the Army does what it can to help. But in the end its up to the individual to make it happen.
  • douxm...
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    douxmusique

    December 11, 2012 at 8:49 PM
    Army wife of a soldier to deals with chartering soldiers out over weight issues- they have ample opportunity to take some responsibikty on themselves and lose weight. So Right well most pt is a joke that isn't going to help anyone lose weight and they do nothing to help these guys actually learn how to eat right, period. And yes, the lack of physical fitness in potential recruits is an actual, real proble.
  • Austi...
    -- Facebook comment from

    Austin Keenan

    December 11, 2012 at 11:47 PM

    Well it's not some trumped up requirement.   Just look at the conditions in Afghan.    They need to be fit. 

    I think I've read that police and fire departments are having the same issue.    It's obviously part of the larger issue in the culture. 

    I guess if it's bad enough we might have a draft  in an emergency situation.   There's a lots of healthy specimens at the gym I go to.


1-10 of 41 comments

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