U.S. Military Fitness Crisis To Cost Government Millions Of Dollars

A new study has revealed that recruits for the Army are in the worst shape that they’ve ever been, and it’s costing the military millions of dollars.

The study, which was recently posted in the Progress in Cardiovascular Diseases journal, analyzed the recent trend among all Army trainees that they don’t have as great physical fitness as they once did. It also analyzed the surge in injuries that the recruits are suffering as a result.

The study looked at all the recruits for the Army during the 2017 fiscal year in basic training. There were a total of 99,335 trainees that fiscal year, and almost 35% of them – 33,509 in total – suffered one musculoskeletal injury at least, according to a story published by the Military Times recently.

The study revealed that the injuries that were most prominent were those that affected connective tissues, muscles, joints and bones. It also found that these injuries were more pronounced among female Army recruits.

There were 19,262 women trainees in the 2017 fiscal year pool, and roughly 62% of them suffered at least one of these musculoskeletal injuries, according to the study. By contrast 32% of the male trainees reported suffering one of these injuries.

The big effect of all these injuries, the Military Times reported, is that they are costing the Army loads of money. The medical costs that were associated with treating the injuries totaled in excess of $14.8 million.

The study was very in-depth, as it broke down the areas where each of the Army recruits lived and reported where the greatest injury percentages came from. Of the 10 states that had the highest percentage of these injuries, eight of them were located in the South. 

In addition to New York and Rhode Island, the top 10 were rounded out by North Carolina, Tennessee, South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana.

The Military Times further reported that those eight southern states accounted for roughly 50% of the injury cost total for the entire country, with injuries suffered by recruits from those states totaling almost $7.2 million.

The authors of the study wrote:

“[R]ecruits coming from Southern states are less physically fit and more likely to sustain [musculoskeletal injuries] during initial military training.”

They added:

“[The data] further demonstrate that improving [physical activity and physical fitness] among young Americans residing in Southern states specifically, and the nation overall, is of critical importance for national security.”

It is essential for all military recruits to be physically fit, of course, if they’re going to help defend America. However, it seems that the overall level of physical fitness among new recruits has gone down considerably in recent years. That isn’t good news for the country, but it does seem to fit in with overall trends in health.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the South has the highest overall prevalence of obesity in the nation, at 36.3%.