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Many youth are ineligible for military service

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Findings highlight health-related issues nationwide

By Shelley Spillman

Two-thirds of U.S. youth are unqualified to serve in the military, according to the Pentagon.

The top shortcomings that restrict youth for being able to serve in the military are physical, behavioral issues, no high school diploma, prescription medicine for attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, tattoos and ear gauge pierces.

“The Defense Department estimates 71 percent of the roughly 34 million 17- to 24-year-olds in the U.S. would fail to qualify to enlist in the military if they tried, a figure that doesn’t even include those turned away for tattoos or other cosmetic issues,” Major Gen. Allen Batschelet, commanding general of U.S. Army Recruiting Command, was quoted as saying in a Wall Street Journal story.

Wow, I can’t be the only one that is blown away by the fact that the majority of American youth are unqualified to serve in the military. Look back in almost everybody’s family and you’ll find that their father, grandfather or great-grandfather served in military. Will we lose this strong military heritage if most of today’s American youth are ineligible to serve?

It’s ironic that just this morning while watching the Today show before jetting off to work, I saw an ADHD commercial. The commercial boasted this particular medicine’s usefulness to a teen. “Now Mary can do well in school,” the mother cried in the commercial, her face painted with pride.

How many times in a day do we all see similar medication commercials and mentally go through the checklist of symptoms? I think we’ve all talked ourselves into thinking we have variety of illnesses based on a commercial’s laundry list of symptoms.

A study released last year from the Mayo Clinic found that nearly 70 percent of Americans take at least one prescription drug, and more than half of that 70 percent of individuals take two prescriptions drugs a day.

A recent WebMD study found that one in 10 kids are diagnosed with ADHD.

I think data is screaming that the U.S. is overmedicated. I can’t be too preachy though; looking at my medicine cabinet I have antihistamines, nasal spray and an asthma inhaler I take often for allergies.

I have acid reflex pills I take often, and a restricted diet of foods that my body simply cannot process.

Another health issue highlighted in the Wall Street Journal article that restricts military service is obesity. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, childhood obesity has more than doubled in children and quadrupled in adolescents in the past 30 years.

The Journal of American Medical Association study of food portion sizes from 1977-1998 found the portion sizes have increased greatly in 20 years, which, in my opinion, is part of the culprit for the heftiness of Americans.

The study found that the size of burgers increased by 23 percent, soft drinks increased by 53 percent and snacking, including crackers, chips and pretzels, increased by 60 percent over a 20 year span.

The eligibility of American youth to serve in the military just highlights the health concerns in American of why we are over medicated and over fed. The only way this is going to get better is if we start asking more questions about what’s in our food and why certain medications are necessary.

I think we are moving towards accepting less of information that’s being fed to us and researching on our own about what are GMOs and is high fructose corn syrup really bad for you?

The public has been demanding more transparent food labeling to make their own informed decisions about what they want to eat. The only way these health concerns will get better is if the public takes more ownership of their health. You have a right to know what is going into your body, and don’t think otherwise.