Today is the Army’s birthday

June 14, 2018 GMT

On this day 243 years ago, the United States Army was born. Our nation was built on the backs of soldiers who fought for freedom, and for centuries, soldiers have continued to defend those freedoms.

For the past four decades, the soldiers raising their right hands to serve have volunteered to do so. The all-volunteer force has transformed the way we work toward peace and stability as a nation. It has also overhauled the quality we require.

There is a reason the U.S. Army is one of the most respected organizations in the world — its people. The U.S. Army is filled with qualified, trained and educated individuals who have a desire to serve.

Unfortunately, we are challenged with finding enough young Americans who meet our cognitive, physical and moral requirements and also want to serve.

As the commander of the San Antonio recruiting battalion, I see amazing young people daily wanting to dedicate time in service to our nation. Sadly, I also see how societal issues impact the ability of so many to meet the qualifications to serve.


More than 70 percent of young people do not meet the requirements because of obesity, mental and physical health problems, drugs, law violations and aptitude. I also see a major problem with public perception, and it will impact the future of our nation’s Army if we don’t work together to fix it.

About 50 percent of today’s youth admit they know little to nothing about the U.S. military. Many can’t name all the services. If they don’t understand the caliber of our soldiers or the educational and career opportunities available to them, they will never consider service as an option. We are depriving young Americans of an opportunity to mature, develop strong decision-making abilities, and gain skills that will help them through life.

They don’t know the Army will pay for their education, and offers housing allowances, health care, retirement, family support and many other benefits well beyond what normally is found in the private sector. They don’t know nearly every career available in the private sector is also available in the U.S. Army.

Not everyone can or should choose the Army as a career path; however, young people deserve a chance to make an informed decision about their future. They deserve to understand every path — work, technical education, community colleges, universities and, yes, the military — so they can find the one that suits their goals.

It is a fact that veterans are more likely to vote, volunteer and be involved in their communities. Student veterans are more likely to graduate, earn higher GPAs and select more academically rigorous degrees. Why wouldn’t we encourage youth to grow through service and become the leaders our nation needs?


I challenge community leaders, educators and parents throughout the San Antonio area to learn more about your Army. Don’t make assumptions about service or the quality of our soldiers. Take the time to get to know the soldiers and veterans in your community — learn about what they do and how their service has impacted their lives. You’ll be surprised with what you find.

To have the best soldiers serving our nation as engineers, logisticians, nurses, human resources specialists and much more, our Army needs your support to educate and encourage youth to learn about military service and consider it as a career option.

We need you to be ambassadors for the all-volunteer force to help continue the legacy of the soldiers who fought for our way of life for the past 243 years. Help celebrate this year’s Army birthday by meeting your local soldiers and veterans to learn more about what the Army has to offer.

Lt. Col. D’Angelo A. Blount commands the U.S. Army Recruiting Battalion in San Antonio.