Leading by Example at the "Run with the General"
Mission: Readiness members and Members of Congress highlight importance of physical activity
By Lieutenant General (Ret.) Thomas Spoehr, U.S. Army
On June 14, which marks both Flag Day and the Army’s birthday, I was proud to take part in a Mission: Readiness “Run with the General” event on the National Mall. The bipartisan 5K run and walk was hosted by Rep. Don Bacon (R-NE), a retired Air Force Brigadier General and member of Mission: Readiness, and Rep. Seth Moulton (D-MA), a Marine veteran. During the event, Mission: Readiness members had the opportunity to speak with Members of Congress about the importance of encouraging young people to be physically active.
At the opening of the “Run with the General,” I highlighted how keeping kids active isn’t just critical to their health and well-being, but an issue of national security. The Department of Defense reports that 71 percent of young Americans between the ages of 17 and 24 can not qualify for military service, with obesity as a leading medical disqualifier. In order for our nation to maintain the most highly-skilled volunteer military in the world, we must ensure that there is a talented pool of recruits eligible for service if that is the path they choose to take.
It is alarming that physical activity time among adults in the U.S. has declined 32 percent in the past 20 years, and is on track to drop 46 percent by 2030. Today, nearly three-quarters of children nationwide report that they receive less than an hour of physical activity daily.
We must work to reverse this trend, since regular physical activity promotes growth and development, healthy weight, and mental and cognitive health in children. Each of us who attended the “Run with the General” has seen the profound impact that staying active has had on our own lives and hope to encourage today’s youth to adopt healthy habits.
I am grateful that Mission: Readiness members have allies in Congress who understand the critical importance of helping children stay active and lead by example. I look forward to working with these congressional leaders in the future to ensure that the next generation is healthy and that those who choose to join the military are fit enough to do so.
Lieutenant General (Ret.) Thomas Spoehr, U.S. Army, is a Mission: Readiness member and the Director of the Heritage Foundation’s Center for National Defense. He lives in Alexandria, Virginia.
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