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Fit To Serve? Most Young Adults Aren't

Summer, when school is over, is the military's prime recruiting time. But when the Army goes looking for young people to enlist, says Gen. William Wallace, it runs into an astounding fact.

"About 28 percent of them, based on our analysis, are fully qualified for military service," he said.

Put it another way: Only three out of 10 young people between the ages of 17 and 24 even qualify to serve in the Army, CBS News national security correspondent David Martin reports.

The rest are ineligible either because they didn't graduate from high school, have a police record or are not physically fit.

"It doesn't surprise me, because I really think we don't see as much physical activity either in schools or outside of schools as we used to," said Maria Tukeva, the principal of Bell Multicultural High School in Washington, D.C., where, until recently, gym class was impossible.

"We had no gymnasium, no sports equipment or field of any kind," Tukeva said.

Now she has a new building, complete with a weight room. But Coach Iwan Balcet says the kids who use it are the exception.

"It's getting worse and worse. I mean, I think that the video-game era, especially now, the video games are getting cheaper and cheaper and cheaper," Balcet said.

Call them the softest generation, but you really can't blame them. In four years at Bell, a student is only required to take nine weeks of gym class.

That's it?

"And that's it pretty much," Balcet said.

Nationwide, an increasing number of students don't stay in school for four years.

"Every 26 seconds in our country a young person drops out of high school," Wallace said.

At Bell, Michael Connors, a former Air Force pilot who flew in and out of Iraq and Afghanistan, teaches English as a second language.

How hard is it for him to keep kids on the right track?

"It's tough," Connors said. "This job, teaching, makes going to war look easy."

A nation, it's been said, is only as strong as its children. And that's never more true than in a time of war. The evidence says our children are getting weaker, both mentally and physically.

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