Strong Children, Strong Nation
A strong America relies on a foundation of domestic stability and prosperity that is guarded and ensured by a stong national defense. When either of these building blocks are compromised, the strength of our nation is too in jeopardy.
Stable Neighborhoods, Stable Children
Many Americans are working hard within critical areas such as juvenile justice, youth development and the prevention of gangs and gang proliferation. We need to advance and expand on many successful efforts to address these issues, build more stable, safer and stronger local communities in which our young people can grow and prosper. If we cannot maintain meaningful domestic tranquility and prosperity, we cannot expect to be a true beacon for global stability.
Stable Children, Stable Security
Most Americans may not typically make a direct connection between a healthy, stable childhood, our future prosperity and the strength and security of our country. However, many Americans, including a large group of current and former military leaders, are beginning to awaken the nation to the connection between healthy child development and America’s security.
Courageous Americans have always answered the call to military service. Hundreds of thousands of young men and women across America have put their lives on the line and served with honor on defense and humanitarian missions around the world. Unfortunately today many young Americans who want to join the military cannot.
Three of the most common barriers for potential recruits are:
- Failure to graduate from high school
- A criminal record
Physical fitness issues, including obesity
One important factor that contributes to these impeding issues is the presence of child abuse and neglect in the individual’s life.
- In the interest of national security, we must understand and deal with these problems now.
- To ensure a strong, capable fighting force for the future, America’s youth must succeed academically, graduate from high school, be fit, and obey the law.
- If we are able to curb the instances of child abuse and neglect, the amount of violent crimes committed could decrease dramatically and individuals might be less likely to drop out of school and more young Americans would be eligible to serve in our military.
The current landscape:
- Startling statistics released by the Pentagon show that 75 percent of young people ages 17 to 24 are currently unable to enlist in the United States military.
- One in 10 young adults cannot join the military because they have at least one prior conviction for a felony or serious misdemeanor.
- One in 30 men between the ages of 20 and 34 is currently in jail.
- Only about 2 out of 10 young people are fully eligible to join the Army without any waivers, according to the Army’s Accessions Command.
But the good news is we now know how we can provide every child with an equal opportunity for healthy growth and development. Americans everywhere, from leaders in government and business to people in communities across the country, are awakening to the role we each can play in ensuring all children have an equal opportunity for growth and development. We are advocating for the expansion of innovative programming such as home visiting services, increased funding for the prevention of shaken baby syndrome, child-friendly workplaces and comprehensive flex time programs. We are personally promoting the health and wellbeing of every child in our community, donating to child advocacy causes, participating in youth-focused community organizations and dedicating time to babysit or support family or friends who are under stress.
For more information visit www.missionreadiness.org.
The National Movement for America's Children
 Mission: Readiness (2009). Ready, Willing, and Unable to Serve; http://cdn.missionreadiness.org/MR-Ready-Willing-Unable.pdf.