Alabama Adjutant General says fewer are joining the military, eligible candidate pool shrinking

HUNTSVILLE Ala. -- Armed Forces Week continued in Huntsville Wednesday. Alabama's Adjutant General spoke at an event those who have served in the military. She said that while it is great we continue to honor our military, if we don't encourage the new generation to join the ranks, there will be fewer and fewer to honor in the future.

Major General Sheryl Gordan advises the governor on military affairs and commands the Alabama Army and Air National Guard.

"I don't see myself as a trailblazer, or someone who has broken the glass ceiling," Gordan said.

She's the first woman to hold the job, and she is one of only two female major generals in all of the soldiers in the Army National Guard. She may not consider herself a trailblazer but she could be an inspiration.

"I would hope that what I have done gives them the opportunity to say it can be done, and I too can do this," Gordon said.

Gordon spoke at a luncheon honoring the armed forces in Huntsville. She said it's great we continue to honor and recognize our military.

"But there won't be anybody to recognize if we don't work diligently on getting qualified troops in our formation," she said.

She said less than 1% of the U.S. population chooses to serve in the military. Not only that, the pool of candidates who are eligible to serve is also shrinking.

"Part of the problems are rising obesity rates within our state, increase diagnosis of ADD, ADHD," Gordon said. "We even had a tattoo policy that they've lightened up on. That kept people from enlisting."

She said criminal backgrounds and education levels are also keeping people out of the military.

"We've got to get out there and fond out what motivates this current 17 to 24-year-old age group," said Gordon.

She said she doesn't have all the answers but of the soldiers and airmen that do join, they're bright,  enthusiastic, and will continue to push boundaries and blaze trails.