Poor recruit physical condition costs military millions, study finds

In this image from U.S. Capitol Police video, released and annotated by the Justice Department in the Statement of Facts supporting an arrest warrant, David Elizalde, circled in red, appears on security video inside the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, in Washington.

A new study in a journal dedicated to cardiovascular disease has found that US Army recruits are healthier than ever and the US military is spending millions as a result.

The research paper, published in the journal Progress in Cardiovascular Diseases, analyzed the rising prevalence of poor physical fitness among army trainees and the rise in musculoskeletal injuries corresponding to this trend.

The results were drawn from lists of Army recruits entering basic training in fiscal year 2017. Of a total of 99,335 trainees, just under 35% – 33,509 – suffered at least one injury musculoskeletal.

Musculoskeletal injuries among the sample were particularly pronounced among women. Of the 19,262 female trainees in the basin, approximately 62% suffered at least one of these injuries. This alarming figure contrasts sharply with the 32% of male trainees reporting musculoskeletal complications.

Additionally, medical costs associated with treating musculoskeletal injuries among Army trainees totaled more than $14.8 million.

The study further broke down the prevalence of injuries based on the recruits’ states of origin. Of the 10 worst performing states, eight were in the South. New York and Rhode Island joined Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, Tennessee and North Carolina as states with the highest percentage of reported injuries.

As a result, the South was the costliest region in the United States, totaling nearly $7.2 million in medical expenses to treat interns, or about 50% of the total cost nationwide.

“(R)ecrus from Southern states are less physically fit and more likely to sustain (musculoskeletal injuries) during initial military training,” the study authors wrote.

Along with the study findings, these data “further demonstrate that improvement (in physical activity and fitness) among young Americans residing in the Southern states specifically, and across the nation, is of critical importance to national security,” they added.

The research was conducted with the help of various institutions, including Washington and Lee University, the US Army Public Health Center, the American Heart Association, the University of South Carolina, DBornsteinSolutions and The Citadel.

Real full report here.

Zamone “Z” Perez is a quick response reporter and podcast producer for Defense News and Military Times. He previously worked at Foreign Policy and Ufahamu Africa. He is a graduate of Northwestern University, where he researched international ethics and atrocity prevention in his dissertation. He can be found on Twitter @zamoneperez.

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