Earlier today, a press release dropped on a Pentagon news service’s website titled, Why Today’s ‘Gen Z’ is at Risk for Boot Camp Injuries. It is very funny.
You can read it here if you’d like (thanks Vice), but the gist is that a single dude from the US Army, a “clinical coordinator and chief of the medical readiness service line at Fort Leonard Wood in Missouri,” has some concerns about the physical readiness of new recruits aged 18-25.
“The ‘Nintendo Generation’ soldier skeleton is not toughened by activity prior to arrival, so some of them break more easily,” says Major Jon-Marc Thibodeau, a man able to both talk down to a generation of kids coming off two years of pandemic lockdowns/isolation, while also simultaneously confusing them with the actual ‘Nintendo Generation,’ people who are now into their 40s.
He, of course, doesn’t mean their entire skeletons break. That would be crazy. Instead he is referring simply to certain parts of their skeletons, like fractures from falls and stress fractures, with most injuries coming about through “overuse” and affecting the “lower extremities.”
The press release itself is equally condescending, saying stuff like, “Today’s recruits are coming from a far more sedentary lifestyle compared to previous generations, making their skeletons more prone to injuries because they’re not used to the kind of intense activity they will face at basic training.”
I said this was funny up top because a) this man sure does talk/care a lot about the skeletons still inside living people, which is weird, and b) this is a tale as old as time. It’s hilarious to me that militaries and governments continue to be surprised by the poor standard of recruits when they, better than anyone else, should be able to gauge the health of the wider society in which they’re a part of. In particular, those who they’re most likely to be appealing to with recruitment pitches!
There are records of militaries complaining about the shitty quality of recruits from as far back as we’ve got military records. Whether it’s medieval levies drawn from malnourished peasants to the dire physical health of First World War draftees who had grown up in industrialised ghettoes, this is not a new issue nor a new complaint. Blaming these recruits’ physical “weakness” on superficial entertainment pastimes, rather than the wider socio-economic systems that have led to this point in the first place, is called “doing your job very badly.”
If your current training program is literally breaking people’s legs, and your sole job is to train whatever comes in the door, maybe...change your training program?