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Study: 75 percent of Louisiana young adults are unable to join military

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A new report suggests 75 percent of young adults here in Louisiana are not qualified to serve in the U.S. Military.

According to retired military leaders, the factors for ineligibility include recruits being too overweight, uneducated, having a history of drugs or having a criminal record. 

In Lafayette, Army recruiters are seeing some of the same issues mentioned in that report, but there is one factor that stands out more than others.

"I do see a lot of people that do have trouble getting in because of things that have happened to them in their previous life," says Army Private First Class Dylan Dent.

The biggest eligibility issue in Lafayette is future soldiers who are under-educated.  

"The thing we've been noticing lately is students that decided to drop out of high school," says Sergeant Nathan Fleischaker.

A high school diploma or a G.E.D. is required to serve in the Army, along with a healthy height/weight ratio, a clean record and certain medical qualifications.  

Some retired military leaders say it's early childhood education that starts kids on a path to fulfill these requirements, but that doesn't necessarily mean your past determines your future. 

"It's up to you if you're going to be educated enough or healthy enough to join. To meet the requirements to join, I think it's all up to you. It's not something that you have to blame on your childhood," says Dent.

In Lafayette, recruiters offer help in overcoming some of the issues, but acknowledge they are up against other factors, too.

"One of our biggest obstacles here in Lafayette is the desire to serve. I really think that young people have a common misconception certainly in our area that they believe there's a high level of risk involved in any job they would do in the Army, and I don't think that's the case at all," says Fleischaker. 

He says, for the most part, those who are dedicated will eventually be able to join, and finding those with the desire to be in the military is the biggest problem. Showing up to chat with a military recruiter is by no means making a commitment, and they say you might be surprised by what you learn. 

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