As the state legislature debates budget priorities, an area of concern on both sides of the aisle is the readiness of our future workforce. As a retired U.S. Army general, I too am concerned about this especially since the young people of today are the service members of the future.

Unfortunately, a look at our youth shows a shortfall in “citizen-readiness” – the idea that they can be contributing members of society in any arena. In particular, too few are prepared for military service. The U.S. Army felt the effects of this by missing its 2018 recruiting goal by 8.5 percent, or about 6,500 recruits.

In fact, a shocking 71 percent of young Pennsylvanians do not qualify for military service. That’s three young people in four whose potential is doused before they arrive at the recruiting office. One third are obese. One third lack a high school diploma or can’t pass military entrance exams. The final third have records of criminal activity or substance abuse.

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