One in five US Army generals wasn’t ‘medically ready’ to fight in 2016 – for many, simply because they failed to get annual physical and dental check-ups, data obtained by USA Today has revealed.
Before deployment, every member of the American military must meet minimum fitness requirements.
That includes having a clean bill of physical and dental health – but high level servicemen and women can’t very well have that if they haven’t been to a doctor or dentist in over a year.
After launching a broader misconduct investigation in 2014, the Army discovered that not only were some of its highest-ranking members guilty of violations like sexual misconduct – they also don’t like the dentist very much.
One in five Army generals were not ‘medically fit’ to serve in 2016 – and many failed simply for skipping annual exams and blood work, USA Today’s investigation found
Physical fitness is a central qualification for members of the military, whose ultimate role is to fight to defend the country.
And the Army doesn’t want any surprises while its members are deployed in potentially dangerous environments, so it needs to be acutely aware of any potential health problems facing everyone from cadets all the way up to generals.
But accountability has recently been an issue in the Army in recent years.
In 2014, an internal investigation was launched into service men and women, prompted in part by a spate of scandals in the highest ranks.
USA Today obtained the results of this investigation in 2017, and has since received updated (though heavily redacted) information revealing that one in five generals couldn’t technically be deployed because they are ‘medically unfit.’
This could mean that they failed the physical fitness test (a point of pride for service members) or that they failed to produce up-to-date medical records.
It doesn’t matter which it is. Every box on the checklist has to be ticked, or the Army will not take the risk of sending a soldier (or officer) into battle.
Poor health is a mounting challenge for the US military.
As of December 2017, nearly 75 percent of 17- to 24-year-old Americans were unfit to serve, according to Pentagon data.
The most common reason – even among this youngest age group – was health problems, which disqualify about a third of potential volunteer servicemen and women.
In 2009, a group of generals and admirals started Mission:Readiness, a nonprofit dedicated to confronting the youth issues that could leave the US military short-changed.
Ironically, many generals themselves would fall into that same category of unreadiness, according to the 2017 report – documenting 2016 readiness – that USA Today obtained.
Army spokesperson, Brig Gen Omar Jones, told USA Today that this problem has since been addressed, and that the Army has made sure its top leaders show up to their teeth cleanings, blood drawings and annual check-ups.
‘The Army’s top priority is readiness and soldiers are expected to be world-wide deployable to ensure our Army is ready to fight today and in the future,’ said Jones.
Daily Mail Online sent a request for comment to another Army spokesperson, but had not received a reply at time of publication.