A group of military leaders says 80% and maybe as many as 90% of 17 to 24 year olds in the Pittsburgh area would not qualify for military service. Members of "Mission: Readiness," a non-profit comprised of 200 retired military officers, say a 2009 Pentagon study shows that nationwide 75% of young adults are unfit for military service.
The reasons include obesity, health problems such as asthma, criminal records, failure to graduate high school or being unable to pass the entry exams.
Retired Major General John Stevens says these numbers are not just a problem for the military....
"When you have people who are unfit, uneducated and unscrupulous, if they don't get into the military, they're probably not going to be successful as diplomats, in politics, in local or national or international business. They;re not going to be the innovators, the technologists, professors of medicine. So we have a problem everywhere in this country in terms of securing the nation and defending our vital national interests."
At an event at Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Hall in Pittsburgh, Stevens and other retired generals spoke about the importance of early education to build the foundation for disciplined, law-abiding, achieving adults.