If The Military Turns You Down


If the military turns you down …You probably are disqualified from the trades.

Last year I read an article in the Wall Street Journal saying that 71% of American youths between the ages of 17 and 24 would fail to qualify for the U.S. military if they applied. Reasons include physical, educational or behavioral shortcomings, the latter including criminal convictions or drug usage. A breakdown of exclusions is as follows:

  • 28% fail to qualify for medical reasons, which includes being overweight or having mental health issues;
  • 8% due to drug usage;
  • 2% due to aptitude (math and reading deficiencies);
  • 2% due to too many dependents;
  • 1% due to bad conduct;
  • 31% have overlapping reasons, i.e., more than one of the above deficiencies.

The figures add up to 72% due to rounding, but leave only about 29% of people between ages 17-24 eligible for military service. (The military does make some exceptions to their requirements on a case-by-case basis.) According to the Pentagon, of those 29% who make the grade, some are then disqualified on the basis of having visible tattoos, although they would be accepted if they go through the long and painful process of having those tattoos removed. In the end, of those eligible, only about 1% actually seek to enlist in the military.

These were astonishing figures to me. They reveal plenty about how difficult it is for the U.S. military to attract worthy recruits.

Something else occurred to me as well. That’s the fact that most of the same factors that disqualify young people from military service are likely to prohibit them from entering the trades as well. And it speaks of how difficult it is for trade employers to find people who can make their grade.

It’s rewarding to be a trade worker, but nothing worthwhile comes easy. As I’ve noted previously in these blogs, to become a skilled trade worker you must avoid drugs and criminal activities and possess above average intelligence, especially a superior mechanical aptitude. You need to be in good health and emotionally stable as well.

So stay out of trouble. And avoid those tattoos and body piercings! Or at least put them in places where they can be covered up.