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Gen. Billy McCoy, retired Air Force major general

1st Sergeant Thomas Putnam, Army recruiter in Las Vegas

BY AMY KINGSLEY -- Nearly 75 percent of young adults in the United States don’t qualify for military service. The biggest obstacle here in Nevada is the state’s high rate of high school drop outs.

The military no longer accepts drop outs or people with GEDs for service. Enlistees must have a high school diploma, said First Sergeant Thomas Putnam.

The service has changed in the last several decades, and now requires more highly skilled soldiers.

“We’ve transitioned from the old school to a new, high-tech service,” said Billy McCoy, a retired Air Force Major General.  “And it requires a better-educated force to operate it.”

“The young students [in high school] have no idea what the requirements are to serve in the military,” said 1st Sgt. Thomas Putnam. “And a lot of them look at the military in the past like it’s plan B. And the Army, along with all the other Armed Forces, have made an initiative to change that. We’re not your plan B because it’s easier now to get into a college than it is to serve in the military.”

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Here are some of the requirements for serving in the U.S. Army:

  • You must not have any felonies
  • In general, you must have a high school diploma. Those with GEDs may be accepted in rare cases, but the standard generally requires a GED and 15 college credits.
  • Must meet height/weight standards. A six-foot tall man must weigh between 140 and 190 lbs.
  • A 5-foot-6-inch woman must weigh between 117 and 155 lbs.
  • You must be able to run, do pull-ups, push-ups and sit-ups. The physical requirements vary by branch. In the Navy, potential recruits must run one-and-a-half miles, do two-minutes of push-ups and sit-ups. The time on the run and the number of sit-ups and push-ups performed will be measured against a minimum score.
  • Must pass the Armed Forces Qualification Test. A minimum score for the Army is 31 out of 99. In Nevada, 19 percent of high school graduates cannot meet that basic threshold.


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