In an article by Lt. Gen James Dubic in the February 2023 issue of Army AUSA magazine, several troubling facts were stated regarding recruiting. The title of the report is “Inspired to Serve” and it lists three main factors that affect recruiting in the US Army, Guard and Reserve. The Heritage Report discusses what’s needed to improve military outreach, increase opportunities for youths to explore military service, as well as expanding civic education, educational pathways and modernizing veterans’ preferential policies.
However, The Heritage Report states that too few Americans are fit to serve. The report states that 29% of youths meet all the core requirements without a waiver. The three factors that limit the pool to 29% are as follows: high school graduation rates, criminal records affect eligibility, and the most significant factor is obesity. Mental illness rates are climbing, between 2009 and major depressive episodes and suicide rates have risen 60% during that period. This translates to roughly 26 million young Americans.
Too many factors lie outside the Army’s ability to fix. The crisis is a national one and should be treated as such. The current worldwide conditions are an indication as to the critical situation that exists.
Brigadier General John J. Anzidei Nature friendly roads
(USAR RET), Wallingford
UConn recently introduced a program about nature friendly roadside maintenance with sustainable native plants, reduced mowing and pollinator habitats. Realtors stress curb appeal and Connecticut’s scenic roads have provided excellent curb appeal, but recent aggressive trimming has left many with stumps, downed trees, ground up branches and invasive weeds. I hope DOT will use the abundant expertise and strong interest in sustainable landscapes to promote natural roadside charm.
Meriden has lots of roads. Based on data from a December 2021 DOT report, Meriden has more roads per square mile than 141 other towns. Meriden has more than double the overall state number. Conservative math indicates 12% of Meriden land is used for roads, roadsides and medians. [More detailed data from Meriden DPW finds more miles.]
Managing these roadside and interchange areas for native vegetation provides habitat and reduces the need for mowing and other vegetation management. The pleasant appearance of wildflowers and native shrubs makes driving in Connecticut more pleasant. Shrubs and appropriate trees screen out some of the problems roads cause. They can filter out pollutants, buffer noise, heat and lights, and screen out traffic.
Please reach out to elected officials to encourage them to call on DOT and others to manage the roadsides in a more environmentally and community friendly way. Mowing and tree removal consume DOT resources that could be applied to other transportation needs — and the work sites create delays and hazards. Sustainable landscapes help manage storm water and require much less maintenance. We can add resilience in a sustainable way while providing habitat and pride in our natural beauty and appeal.
Dave Rauch Meriden