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COVID-19 making it difficult for military to recruit

When unemployment goes up, military recruiting gets easier. But now, in the era of COVID-19, it may just get a lot tougher.

The Pentagon’s most recent memo on how to deal with potential recruits who show up with, or already recovered from, COVID-19 is tough.

People who’ve been hospitalized are out unless they get a special medical waiver.

“Their first step right now has just been to shut it down for anybody,” said Meghann Myers, Pentagon Bureau chief for the Military Times.

Myers broke the story: recruits hospitalized for coronavirus cannot enlist.

“There’s just not enough research to know what the effects long term effects, how many people have been exposed right now,” she said.

That’s not what recruiters want to hear.

Currently, less than 10 million men and women in prime recruiting age are eligible to enlist. Now, that number is going to shrink.

According to the Army Recruiting Command, only about 30% of Americans qualify.

So what disqualifies the rest of the men and women ages 17 to 24?

  • Fitness and weight
  • Misconduct
  • Substance use
  • Mental health
  • Medical issues

COVID-19 falls into that last category, along with other diseases like diabetes, asthma and HIV.

LINK: Medical Standards for Appointment, Enlistment or Induction into Military Services

Training has also changed because of the virus, as showcased on “60 Minutes.”

“Day to day our biggest problem is keeping them in that six feet,” said Lt. Col. Patrick Collins in the interview. “You tend to tell them, “‘Okay, separate. Get your six feet.’ You know, a couple minutes later, you know, just kind of natural human behavior. They start clustering again and you, and you, you’ve gotta tell them again.”

As for getting a medical waiver, that’s tough when trying to get into the military. It’s much easier once you’re in uniform.

For instance, the sailors on the aircraft carrier where there was an outbreak will likely be able to stay, as long as they experience no serious or long-lasting effects.

Reporter:Rich Kolko
Writer:Briana Harvath
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