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An implicit goal of Congress, the Department of Defense, and the armed services is that diversity in the armed services should approximate diversity in the general population. A key aspect of that diversity is the representation of Hispanics. Although polls of Hispanic youth show a strong propensity to serve in the military, Hispanics are nevertheless underrepresented among military recruits. The authors discuss the major characteristics that disproportionately disqualify Hispanic youth and explore the following questions: If recruiting standards were relaxed, what would be the effect on military performance? What actions could be taken to increase Hispanic enlistments? Finally, they examine several approaches to increasing enlistments — increasing the number of Hispanic youth who are eligible and would meet the military's entry standards, increasing interest and recruiting more intensively among the qualified Hispanic population, and targeting recruiting toward less-qualified Hispanics.

Table of Contents

  • Chapter One

    Introduction: Hispanic Enlistments in Perspective

  • Chapter Two

    Overview of Service Enlistment Standards

  • Chapter Three

    Enlistment Qualifications

  • Chapter Four

    Health Obstacles to the Enlistment of Hispanic Youth

  • Chapter Five

    Analysis of Hispanic Military Career Outcomes

  • Chapter Six

    Increasing Hispanic Enlistments: Evaluating Education and Career Choices

  • Chapter Seven

    Policy Implications

  • Appendix A

    Detailed Information on Enlistment Standards

  • Appendix B

    Service Waiver Policy

  • Appendix C

    Estimates of Prevalence of Health Conditions, by Race and Ethnicity

  • Appendix D

    Tests of Statistical Significance in Medical Disqualification Rates

The research described in this report was prepared for the Office of the Secretary of Defense (OSD). The research was conducted in the RAND National Defense Research Institute, a federally funded research and development center sponsored by the OSD, the Joint Staff, the Unified Combatant Commands, the Department of the Navy, the Marine Corps, the defense agencies, and the defense Intelligence Community.

This report is part of the RAND Corporation monograph series. RAND monographs present major research findings that address the challenges facing the public and private sectors. All RAND monographs undergo rigorous peer review to ensure high standards for research quality and objectivity.

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