Two Former Chairmen of Joint Chiefs Hail Passage of Child Nutrition Legislation As Important Step to Strengthen National Security

Dec 02, 2010, 15:39 ET from MISSION: READINESS

WASHINGTON, Dec. 2, 2010 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Two former Chairmen of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, who are members of the national nonprofit Mission: Readiness, praised final Congressional passage of child nutrition legislation today as an important step to strengthen national security.

"Being overweight or obese is the No. 1 medical reason why young men and women are unable to join the military," said retired Army Generals John M. Shalikashvili and Hugh Shelton in a joint statement. "On behalf of more than 100 retired generals and admirals who strongly supported child nutrition legislation as a matter of national security, we are very pleased that both the Senate and the House have taken this important step in addressing the nation's child obesity crisis and we look forward to the President signing the bill."

The two retired generals said the measure was needed to combat child obesity and increase the pool of young adults available for military service. The bill now goes to President Obama, who has said he will sign it into law.

House approval of the bill, which passed the Senate unanimously in August, came after Mission: Readiness released an open letter to Congress from more than 100 retired admirals and generals calling on the House and Senate leadership to approve the bill before the current term of Congress expires. To view the open letter, go to

"Research shows that up to 40 percent of what children consume every day takes place during school hours and that 80 percent of children who were overweight between the ages of 10 to 15 were obese by age 25," Generals Shalikashvili and Shelton said. "The final bill includes provisions that can get junk food out of schools, nourish more kids who need healthful meals and motivate them and their parents to adopt healthful eating and exercise habits."

In an op-ed in the Washington Post on April 30, Generals Shalikashvili and Shelton noted that military concerns about the fitness of American children are not new. When the National School Lunch Act was first passed in 1946, it was seen as a matter of national security. At the time many military leaders recognized that poor nutrition was a significant factor reducing the pool of qualified candidates for service, the generals noted.

"Our country is facing another serious health crisis. Obesity rates threaten the overall health of America and the future strength of our military," the generals said. "We must act, as we did after World War II, to ensure that our children can one day defend our country, if need be."

Retired U.S. Army Gen. John M. Shalikashvili served as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff from October 1993 to September 1997. Retired U.S. Army Gen. Hugh Shelton served as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff from October 1997 to September 2001. Both are on the executive advisory council of Mission: Readiness, a nonprofit organization of retired senior military leaders. For more information, go to

Mission: Readiness is the nonprofit, bi-partisan organization of senior retired military leaders ensuring continued American security and prosperity into the 21st century by calling for smart investments in the next generation of American children.