Amid the military’s recruitment problem, lawmakers are looking for ways to break down obstacles preventing citizens from joining. Florida Rep. Matt Gaetz recently introduced an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) that would remove marijuana testing for military recruits, according to The Daily Caller.
The amendment would affect both the enlisted and officers. Gaetz submitted the amendment to the House Rules Committee, which focuses on marijuana testing as a condition of recruitment but does not extend to when servicemembers are part of the military. In a statement, Gaetz said that he does not believe using marijuana should bar anyone from serving. Instead, he argued, people who “step up” to serve should not be penalized.
Marijuana usage has been decriminalized or legalized in many states. While 38 states have allowed the usage of medical marijuana, some 23 have also allowed recreational use. The military’s strict no-marijuana policy may be of the many contributing factors to the shrinking size of the force, some analysts suggest.
The military was reportedly short 15,000 recruits during the last fiscal year, which is 25 percent of its target. The shortage resulted in a reduction of the active-duty force from 476,000 to 466,000. Now, Army officials are projecting that that fall may increase by another 20,000. That drop would represent a 7 percent decrease in the active-duty force in just two years.
Other analysts are noting the military’s changes in standards as a result of the poor recruitment levels. For instance, the physical fitness of soldiers is being slightly scaled back. But a much larger issue is looming. Just 45 percent of Americans have trust in the military, down 25 percent from 2018.
A lack of trust coupled with easing standards is causing soldiers like Jack Teixeira to leak classified information, according to The Free Press.