WASHINGTON, D.C. (NEXSTAR) – Our military wants to add thousands of service members but is struggling to find enough qualified recruits.
Officials say drug use and other issues are disqualifying too many people.
“It becomes increasingly harder when you have a reduced pool of qualified applicants to come in, yet the quota is higher,” said Retired Brigadier General Stephen Cheney.
According to the non-profit group Mission Readiness, more than 70 percent of young adults ages 17-24 are not eligible to serve.
Officials worry a lack of qualified manpower could impact readiness if our troops are forced into conflict.
In an effort to attract more qualified recruits, military officials are increasing incentives. That includes offering higher pay for specialized skills like engineers or cybersecurity personnel.
Senator Tim Kaine says the military can’t solve the recruitment problem on its own. He believes Congress took a step forward by passing a bipartisan budget deal which increases military and non-military spending.
“If you are not spending on the non-military side, money the right way on education, on mental health or drug treatment, then you’ll find on the military side, it’s harder and harder to recruit people in,” he said.
As appropriation talks continue, lawmakers and military officials say they’re committed to keeping our military strong and ensuring the safety of the American people.