Exploring the Military’s Medical Standards in the Context of Low Recruitment Numbers

A soldier doing exercises

It is time to rethink the military’s medical standards. Right now, only 23% of American youth can join the military without needing special permission due to various health issues. This shortage of eligible recruits is making it harder for the military to find new members. The military was already in a recruiting crisis, and the military branches are looking for ways to help ineligible recruits qualify.

Bradyn Schiffman argues that the problem is the eligibility rules themselves. The medical standards for recruits are strict compared to deployment standards, but, Schiffman explains, these standards should be flipped: standards for recruitment should be laxer while standards for deployment should be strict.

Schiffman writes that history shows relaxing entry requirements will not hurt the military’s effectiveness. Furthermore, there are military roles that do not involve combat in which people who might be otherwise medically disqualified could still contribute.

Moreover, some medical conditions that disqualify people are too strict, Schiffman argues. Maladies such as childhood asthma, food allergies, celiac disease, irritable bowel syndrome, and even braces or retainers should not automatically rule someone out of military service, he writes.

Ultimately, Schiffman observes, the military needs to be more flexible and practical about who can serve if it wants to ease its recruiting crisis.

By Bradyn Schiffman

Bradyn Schiffman is a third-year evening student at Georgetown University Law Center. He currently works for the Department of Treasury and previously spent five years working for the Department of Defense. He graduated summa cum laude with a Bachelor of Arts in Russian Language and Culture and International Studies from Emory University and is originally from the New York area. Views do not represent the views of the Department of Treasury or the Department of Defense.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *