Retired military officials urge legislature to support quality childcare, in effort to raise recruitment numbers

LINCOLN, Neb. (KOLN) - According to a report released today, 71 percent of Nebraskans are not eligible to enter the Armed Forces due to physical or mental limitations. But retired military officials say, a lot of things holding potential recruits back could have been solved beforehand.

According to Mission: Readiness, a nonprofit of 750 retired military leaders, problems like lack of education, obesity and behavioral problems are likely the cause of these disqualifications. Officials from Mission: Readiness say, it all stems back to lack of high-quality childcare.

"If we do not address this trend, we will not have a sufficient pool of talented recruits to serve in our military in the future," said retired Brigadier General Dayle Williamson. "The best way to do this is to start now."

"We can't force an applicant to be qualified," said Officer Kevin Kilker. "If a hundred percent of people were physically and mentally capable of serving in the military that'd be great. We have to work with the population we have."

That population is only 29 percent of eligible Nebraskans. After taking entrance exams, that number drops even lower.

"The larger population we have of eligible personnel that are capable of enlisting, the better we'll be, the more quality personnel we can get," said Ofc. Kilker

The retired military officials urged state legislators to support quality child care to ensure "future national security." Said retired Major General Mark Musick:

"Continue to keep high quality early childhood care a priority for the state, because that is the way to influence these children as they grow up and help the state and the nation."