I am going to take a risk and broach a dicey subject, (especially here in the State of Alabama,) and I have no desire to offend anyone. People for whom I care deeply are in a fierce battle against obesity, and I am their champion, as are other Athens Now columnists and clients. I am blessed to own two businesses, the newspaper and my Juice Plus+ Franchise. Our multi-billion dollar Juice Plus+ corporation is committed to “inspire healthy living around the world.” I have had my own struggles with weight, and I am not here to shame or wag fingers.
However, we need to have a frank discussion about what has just happened as far as lowering fitness standards in our military, and that is going to step on some toes. As of Aug 4th, the Navy announced that it was embracing a “more realistic standard,” when it comes to the body fat composition of its sailors. As a matter of readiness and the overall ability to defend us, this, in my opinion is a dangerous move.
I observed first hand while I was in Iraq ,that the National Guard in particular had people, (fine people, I might add,) arrive in country with a serious weight problem. Good hearted career soldiers would take them under their wing, work with them, and get them to a literal “fighting weight,” which as far as building morale was a positive thing. However, this should not be something that is addressed on the battle field; this needs to be taken care of beforehand. Why am I making such a big deal about this? Because when a soldier is both overweight and out of shape, they cannot do the job for which they signed on, and that is to protect and defend.
Our armed services are experiencing a literal “squeeze,” and it is not just confined to fitting into one’s uniform, or being able to “drop and give me 20” without ending up in sick bay. There has been a systematic, (and in my view, intentional) lowering of morale. Everything is under attack: morality, freedom of speech, freedom of religion, support of our troops from the top down, and an estimated 15% say that their “commitment is waning.” Trust for the CNC is down to 15%. Contrast that with the fact that 1400 sailors were drummed out of the service because they couldn’t meet the fitness requirements, and for the first time in six years, recruitment quotas are not being met. Hopefully now you are starting to get an idea of the depth of the mess in which we find ourselves.
It was my honored and professional duty to build the morale of our troops for three years while living in the combat zone that was Operation Iraqi Freedom, and this set of mixed messages is not only unacceptable, it is truly crazy-making. You cannot on the one hand lower fitness standards, morality standards and freedom of religion standards, and on the other hand decry the fact that you cannot get anyone to be willing to sign up, even for a brief season of their life, to defend and protect the Constitution of the United States of America. Something indeed is going to have to give, and the odds are that it will not be in our favor.
By: Ali Elizabeth Turner