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Rod Powers

Army Considering Establishing a "Fat Camp" for Overweight Applicants

By January 18, 2009

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Maj. Gen. Thomas Bostick, head of the Army Recruiting Command, would like the Army to establish a "fat camp" for overweight applicants, according to a story in the Army Times. According to Defense Department figures provided to the AP, over the past four years 47,447 applicants were denied enlistment at MEPS because they exceeded military weight standards. Countless thousands of others are turned away at Army recruiting offices because they are above the weight standards. Recruiting officials estimate that 30 percent of applicants who walk into an Army recruiting office are turned away because they are obese. An additional 20 percent to 30 percent of recruits are slightly overweight, but some can get the weight off.

General Bostick would like to see a program operated much like the Army's new Prep School, which allows applicants without a high school diploma or GED to conditionally enlist, then attend a 4-week Army school to obtain a GED before attending basic training. Under Bostick's proposal some overweight applicants could enlist and attend a course with formal diet and fitness regimen, then proceed to basic once they achieved Army weight and fitness standards. The two-star general did not provide any timing for when his idea might be put into place, nor how much it would cost.

January 20, 2009 at 2:54 pm
(1) trish says:

I think the fat camp relabled would be an excellent idea. It would let recruits see what they have to deal with and get them in shape. There should be a minimum requirement of time due for this in any type work for those that dont make it though which can be served while they are in boot camp. Dont make the military pay for it, make them earn it.

January 20, 2009 at 8:29 pm
(2) Robbie says:

Here it goes again, the military wants people to enlist due to quotas being down; now this requirement. Well so much for a military. Breed soldiers who will be perfect to meet the required specifications as another country wanted to do. Discrimination for those who want to serve . . .

January 21, 2009 at 2:08 am
(3) Jason says:

Actually, Robbie, the army was at 104% of its recruitment goals in 2008 over its three components. The military as a whole was over its goals as well. This year already the army is at 104%, the Army Reserve is at 113% of its goals, and the Army National Guard is charging forward recruiting a massive 123% of their set goals.

I would say that this would be a great thing for the army, just as in the army prep school people who know their civilian life is not up to army standards who are motivated to change will have a great opportunity to improve. I would say this will pump out quite a lot of very motivated Soldiers.

January 21, 2009 at 10:39 am
(4) The Sarge says:

Jason, your observations, while well-intentioned and statisticaly accurate, ignore a glaring reality. As I’ve mentioned previously, the Army, weather intentionaly or as a byproduct of misguided efforts to man the ranks, has assimilated a No-Child-Left-Behind mentality. With all respects to Army Command’s visions of Prep Schools and Fat Camps, these are, in modified Army parlance, the wrong dogone answer. Good concepts notwithstanding, these programs are nothing short of the road to heck! They offer the easy way for the unprepared and the unmotivated to get a job, benefits, bonuses, etc. I offer these observations with a heavy heart for, as a recently retired retread-of-sorts, I have seen my beloved Army of the 60s decompose into the circus it has become. I am reminded of a popular song of that era, “I never promised you a rose garden”…as I recall, this became a headline for U.S.M.C. recruiting. Bottom line…too many rose gardens, Army Command!


January 24, 2009 at 3:47 pm
(5) LADYLUV81 says:

I agree that the Army standards had become so low. Just a few years ago in 2000, I worked my but off to meet the weight standards. In 4 months I dropped from 186 to 141. I never did a push up , sit up or ran in my whole entire life! I was determined and motivated to really get in, so I made sure I was physically fit.

These now a days, even the NCO’s seems so irresponsible and could care less about the rank! what a disgrace and a shame to the corps! I value and live up to what the creed had established for us NCO’s. But since not much is expected and the rank is being handed out like candy, it seems so hard to even stay in anymore.

I got out 2006 for personal reasons.I had baby Nov 2008. Now once again, I am working my butt off to meet the standards to get in. Discipline of the mind,body and spirit.

Being in the Army is no joke nor something to do until your schooling is paid off or until you figure out what the heck you want to do with your life. Serving your country should be held with the highest honor and to honor those who fought and died for our freedom.

Yes I am very patriotic! and I am from California, was born in the Philippines. But I do love this country and I would gladly serve again and until the Army kicks me out cuz I am too old hah!

January 24, 2009 at 5:38 pm
(6) Danielle says:

I have been begging for this for years. I would have signed up when I was seventeen but I was 165 lbs, 20 lbs over the limit. My weight has balloned now, but if they would have given me this option then, then I would have gladly went.

May 12, 2011 at 7:03 pm
(7) Andrea says:

I hear you, two months ago, I wanted to join the military after I graduated from Bishop State Community College in Health Information Technology. I graduated last night. I wanted to join the military because I want a job. I am healthy and in good physical condition but because I am overweight, I was turned down. Does anyone have any idea how expensive it is to eat healthy and to exercise so that you do not reach the plateau effect. I want to do Power 90 and then P90X. They are expensive. Thats what the miliatary should do. P90X is similar to being in the military.

January 25, 2009 at 8:49 am
(8) Wes says:

I don’t think that this is the Army being soft or easy in there standards. I think that the way kids grow up today with supersize everything and being the XBox generation where kids aren’t as active.
The Army is going to have to be proactive in finding ways to get recruits fit because parents aren’t.
I am an NCO and all of my Soldiers I have had have been overweight when I got them as my Soldiers. I got everyone of my Soldiers under the weight limit and improved thier PT scores by at least 30 points each. It takes dedication as NCO’s and leaders to do your job and make sure that you provide the Soldiers with purpose, motivation, and direction on how to reach goals that you set for them.

January 27, 2009 at 1:21 am
(9) Tracy A Giffin Sr. says:

I would love to have anyone send me more info or updates on this future program, If possible
I am 43 and a bit overweight If Uncle sam said they would take me I would sign on the dotted line tomorrow.

January 29, 2009 at 2:59 am
(10) Jason says:

The Sarge: I don’t disagree that we are not the army you were a member of, part of this I wholeheartedly support and part I too and very disappointed in. For example I am fully in support of the Drill Sergeants not being able to get physical with privates, however, my basic training was farcical with NO D.N.C. no real punishment including a soldier who drunkenly assaulted the First Sergeant on graduation day, and the worst of it, “if you showed up to reception you graduated from basic.”
On the flip side, kids today are not raised in the same way as you and your generation were. You had a huge advantage over the average 18 year old, “the greatest generation” was Dad, Uncle and the guy down the street. Most of the Kids I went to basic with had “best friends” instead of parents. It takes more to build a passable soldier when you are starting with that and the army thinking along those lines isn’t all bad.

All the same as a lowly PFC I would love to see a uniform inspection, a little marching drill and a maybe some repercussions beyond a few push ups for my fellow privates who show up late to formations and occasionally don’t show at all.

January 29, 2009 at 8:23 pm
(11) The Sarge says:

Jason, thanks for your comments regarding my “Old School” observations. Indeed, you recognize the differences between the “Brown Boot” Army in which I, and my fellow dinasaures were steeped (like a cup of tea), and the current structure. I sense you want to be a good Soldier…there are many good NCOs in that structure; as you progress in your career, you will recognize them…learn from them, take full advantage of the growth opportunities within the structure; someday you will become an NCO, realize NCO responsibilities, and help other Soldiers understand some of the “Brown Boot” values of yesteryear.

Meanwhile, never consider yourself a “lowly PFC”. Take pride in yourself, your status within that structure (be it your squad, company, bn, etc); if you feel, for example, that uniform inspections would be appropriate, than you have just established an internal, or personal standard to which you have an obligation to adhere. When you become an NCO, you will insist/demand that your Soldiers adopt and maintain those same standards.

Good luck in your career, Jason, be it your initial tour or a 20-to-30 year period of service to your Country.


February 4, 2009 at 12:14 am
(12) Matt says:

Quite truthfully, I think it would be a very good idea. If the army would tell me tomorrow that they would take me, I wouldn’t hesitate. I myself am extremely overweight and its been chaos trying to get it off to meet the military standards. It would be great to have something like this to help people in my situation. Because my entire family is military, and I am more than willing to keep that tradition going. I love my country, I am also very patriotic. And I am willing to fight for my country and our freedom. I really truly hope that something like this does is in fact built.

March 4, 2009 at 2:45 pm
(13) Temathy says:

I think this would be an outstanding program. As a former military trying my hardest to shed the excess weight to go back in, I WOULD JUMP AT THE CHANCE TO DO THIS PROGRAM. Is there a way to keep informed of this, should it get approved?

March 4, 2009 at 2:58 pm
(14) usmilitary says:

Hi Temathy,

I will continue to post blogs on this program when (if) further information is made available.

The best way to keep informed about this (or any other military issue) is to subscribe to my free weekly newsletter. You can subscribe in the upper right-hand corner of the home page at: http://usmilitary.about.com.

March 8, 2009 at 8:50 pm
(15) jurek says:

This would be awesome! I’d jump all over this chance to improve my health and do something i’ve always wantd to do! Good-bye dead end job, Hello millitary career! i hope to hear about this in the comming months

April 15, 2010 at 12:05 am
(16) Derrick M. Burris says:

Like im 20 years old and im am over wieght and all i want to do is go to the army 11b now i will do anything to get there and if im not in by the time is happen i will be one of the first take my word on it hooah

May 28, 2010 at 9:26 pm
(17) Stayfrosty says:

This is an excellent idea. It reflects the signs of the times. Our country and our young people in particular go through changes each decade, and our Army has to be able to recognize this. They (being the Army) were slow at incorporating technology into the Army, as well as finding recruits that could handle the change to a more automated net centric force. Let’s not throw away valuable candidates and recruits just because they are a little bigger.

June 29, 2010 at 4:22 am
(18) Toli says:

Any news on this program possibly becoming a reality? I too am interested in a military career as i come from a Navy family. Both my Grandparents were naval officers and my uncle was a Navy SEAL. I have wanted nothing more but to join the military,but ran into some weight issues myself. I have taken control of it recently,but i could use some help shedding off the last pounds and getting back into shape.

January 26, 2011 at 8:04 pm
(19) Taitiana says:

Dammit, now I’m realizing how pitiful I am. I was thinking of enlisting in the military since I’m just another sixteen year old with no dreams to dream, and far too much ambition for the total amount of effort I put into living. I’m sharp enough for anything, really, but it’s all a waste without any dreams.

I suppose I hoped to find my way, get my sights in line of what I want to ultimately achieve.

But I just realized, going into the military does go against my modest philosophy of never falling into a trap of a career without at least giving real, personal effort into it. IE for the military, running a mile a day. Shaving off a dozen or so pounds. Wanting to join.

Even I know those who want to serve their country should really mean it enough to get their own selves in order first.

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