The group Mission: Readiness, a nonprofit led by retired military leaders, has issued a report that America’s children are too fat to fight. (PDF download here.) A member of their advisory council, General Johnnie E. Wilson (Ret), says:
“Child obesity has become so serious in this country that military leaders are viewing this epidemic as a potential threat to our national security. We need America’s service members to be in excellent physical condition because they have such an important job to do. Rigorous service standards are critical if we are to maintain the fighting readiness of our military.”
It’s bad enough that, thanks to the Patriot Act, schools are required to turn student records over the the military, and that recruiters strategically target vulnerable kids. Now they’re complaining about the quality of the recruits?
Mission: Critical is calling on Congress to increase funding for better nutritional standards in school, to get junk food out of schools, and to increase funding for obesity reduction programs.
Obviously I don’t have a problem with those goals. Then again, there would be more money for school lunch programs if we weren’t spending so much on the military! The National School Lunch Program budget is about $9 billion per year. The military budget is what, a hundred times that? I have a problem with that not being part of the conversation.
Mission: Critical has also asked for better early-childhood education in Mississippi (PDF link) and other states, saying that:
“Commanders in the field have to trust that our soldiers will respect authority, work within the rules and know the difference between right and wrong. Early learning opportunities help instill the qualities that make better citizens, better workers and better candidates for uniformed service.”
Early-childhood education? Another worthy goal. But is anyone else creeped out by the idea that this organization views children only as potential soldiers? Enjoy your lunch, kids, you’ll be shipping off soon.