From a recent Washington Times article:
“The pool from which the military recruits is already getting smaller. In 1973, the year the draft ended and the all-volunteer force arose, 90 percent of males, ages 17 through 24, qualified based on mental, physical and moral standards. Today, just 35 percent qualify.”
The draft was passed by a one vote margin in 1940 as the USA geared up for WWII. Males only and no exemptions or automatic drops for gay soldier candidates. But one criteria really bit into the draft eligible population. For men drafted you had to pass a draft physical that included being weighed. The criteria? You had to weigh at least 100 lbs. Full combat web gear including rifle and ammo and other equipment often added up to close to 80 lbs and few men could carry close to their own weigh. What percentage flunked this test? Almost 40% of all men as the deep ravages of the Depression and hunger over the prior decade had helped to destroy the health of the nation. Thus the origin of the FOOD STAMP PROGRAM as a national defense program.
Of course the elimination of the restrictions on gays or lesbians enlisting have now been lifted with the end of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell. And heterosexual women can volunteer. So the statistic quoted might be way off!
Still it is worrisome that so few of the population can qualify for the Armed Forces of the USA.