(11/25/2009)
Historically, West Virginians have an austere record of serving America in the military.

Many have used military service as a ticket to a better life, education, travel, and a career.

A new study says many young West Virginians don't have what it takes to make it into the military.

The study estimates that three of four young West Virginians couldn't qualify for the military because they're overweight, have a criminal record or don't have a high school diploma.

It's not just a West Virginia problem.

Mission Readiness, a nonprofit organization working to make sure today's children can qualify for the military, estimates that as much as 75 percent of American youth don't meet the military's requirements.

During the draft for the Vietnam War, there were practically no requirements.

Some of the higher standards can be attributed to the economy. There's no shortage of recruits, which means the military can afford to be pickier.

Besides having no criminal record, you can't be on any mood-altering medications—like anti-depressants or ADHD drugs—and you can't have any chronic medical conditions.

Applicants have to pass the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery, or the ASVAB, which is a 10th grade level standardized test.

Also needed is a high school diploma and to meet weight requirements.

West Virginia is a state with both high school dropout rates and young adult obesity rates above the national average, those two conditions alone rule out a lot of young people.


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