In a recent study, the Pentagon has found that nearly 75 percent of potential military recruits ages 17 to 24 in the United States are unfit to serve due to obesity, lack of a high school diploma, or serious criminal history. This is mildly surprising to me, only in that the figure is so high. The US military has had recruitment problems for years now, so I was already aware that they are willing to hire some pretty shady and dangerous people.
What happened in Fort Hood a few days ago is very sad, and I certainly can't pigeonhole the shooter into the demographic mentioned by this study. However, when you're willing to hire criminals, you're bound to get burned at one point or another. A report released in July of this year showed that major crimes have been on the rise at all military bases since 2003. In addition, arrests among soldiers for murder, arson, and rape rose sharply between 2007 and 2008.
I don't know what the solution to these violence problems is, but I really feel like we're straining the folks in the military too much. Having to serve multiple tours year after year is bound to make even the sanest people among them break down. The fact that criminals are let in only makes things worse in the long run. Hopefully someone will come up with a clever solution to this issue. Otherwise, our country is in for a rude awakening when the supply of competent recruits dries up.