Blog | April 10, 2018

Over 250 Retired Admirals and Generals Call On President to Appoint Leaders to President’s Council on Sports, Fitness, and Nutrition

Letter highlights the threat that obesity poses to national security

President's Council on Fitness logo

Over 250 Mission: Readiness members sent a letter to the President on April 10 requesting that he appoint leaders to the President’s Council on Sports, Fitness, and Nutrition. The signatories included two Mission: Readiness members currently serving in Congress, Rep. Don Bacon, a retired Air Force Brigadier General, and Rep. Jack Bergman, a retired Marine Corps Lieutenant General.

The letter highlighted the important role that the President’s Council plays in preventing childhood obesity and helping young people establish healthy habits:

Lt. Gen. Hummer exercising with students
Lieutenant General (Ret.) Steven Hummer participates in PE class with high school students in Houston, Texas

“The backbone of our military is, and always will be, our men and women in uniform. Appointing champions for better health to the President’s Council on Sports, Fitness, and Nutrition will help educate, engage, and inspire children and youth to adopt habits to avoid obesity, as well as strengthen national security by increasing the number of young adults qualified to serve in the military.”

Several of the letter signatories commented on the importance of the President’s Council:

Lieutenant General (Ret.) Raymond V. Mason: “The President’s Council on Sports, Fitness, and Nutrition plays an important role in inspiring healthy behaviors in children. A healthy nation is critical to the readiness of America’s Armed Forces.”

Rear Admiral (Ret.) James J. Carey: “Teaching kids to stay active sets them up for a productive and healthy life. The President’s Council on Sports, Fitness, and Nutrition has an opportunity to provide America’s children with a strong foundation of fitness.”

Brigadier General (Ret.) Charles O. Dillard: “I believe that childhood obesity poses a great threat to our military, and that the President should utilize the President’s Council on Sports, Fitness, and Nutrition to address this issue.”

Admiral Loy eating lunch with students
Former Coast Guard Commandant Admiral (Ret.) James Loy joins elementary school students for lunch in New London, Connecticut

Military leaders have a long history of advocating for strong nutrition standards and increased youth physical activity. One notable champion was General Lewis B. Hershey, who was an accomplished leader in the Army and the Director of the Selective Service System. Following the conclusion of World War II, General Hershey testified before Congress that one in three Army recruits was ineligible for service due to poor nutrition. He stressed the fact that malnutrition was an issue of national security, and needed to be addressed. The National School Lunch Program was subsequently established in 1946.

President Dwight D. Eisenhower, who served as a highly accomplished Army general before his presidency, established the President’s Council on Youth Fitness by Executive Order in 1956. Today, renamed the President’s Council on Sports, Fitness, and Nutrition, the Council is intended to engage, educate, and empower all Americans to adopt a healthy lifestyle that includes regular physical activity and good nutrition. Housed within the Department of Health and Human Services, the President’s Council has its own staff but formal members have not been appointed under President Trump’s Administration. However, the President did issue an executive order in February clarifying the goals of the Council.

Mission: Readiness believes that with capable leadership, the President’s Council on Sports, Fitness, and Nutrition can help combat childhood obesity and grow the pool of young people qualified for military service by providing role models who encourage more children and youth to stay fit and healthy.

Read the letter with signatures.


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