COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. - Being accepted into branches of the armed forces has become more difficult than it was just a few years ago.
According to recruiters nationally, 75 percent of prospective recruits are rejected for a variety of reasons that include being out of shape or overweight, having a criminal record or having too many tattoos.
The Pentagon's plan to reduce the size of the military means fewer service men and women will be needed, and service branches can be more selective when choosing recruits.
At the Citadel Mall recruiting center in Colorado Springs, two Army recruits -- one who just finished basic training and another who hopes to be accepted -- said they initially failed the weight requirement.
"I just ran a lot and worked out, watched what I eat," said Pvt. Matthew Rodriguez. "Definitely work on my pushups and situps."
"What I've learned so far is that I do need to get in better shape," said prospective recruit Josiah Cisneros."
An Air Force recruiting officer said the service branches no longer stress monthly quotas but will continue to seek the best recruits.
"We just have so many qualified people without law violations, without underage drinking, without doing drugs, without crimes," said Lt. Col. Darrell Smith. "We have too many people waiting to come into the Air Force."
Army Sgt. Ken Walker said recruiters are emphasizing to high school students the need to stay out of trouble that could jeopardize a possible military career.
"In some places, a conviction that was a misdemeanor is considered a felony by the Army," he said. "Even marijuana convictions that came before legalization can keep you out of the military. We see a lot of drug use. We have zero tolerance for that."
Recruiters said they'll help prospective recruits meet military requirements as long as those applicants are willing to do the necessary work on their own.