WASHINGTON — Several big changes are coming to the Navy’s Physical Fitness Program, as part of the Secretary of the Navy’s new personnel initiatives, the first being the Navy actually having a physical fitness program, the service announced on Monday. The Navy is blitzing social media with the hashtag #waistlinesmatter.
“Our goal is to keep sailors,” said Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus. “ Last year, we discharged about 1,500. They were so weak and feeble they couldn’t even raise their arms to render a hand salute.”
Mabus wants to strengthen Navy culture through a focus on sustained health and fitness. Likening his program to "an investment in sailors," his intent is to actually get a day's work out of the Navy.
Rear Adm. Dawn E. Cutler, spokeswoman for the Secretary, notes that obesity has real costs for the Naval service.
"If every sailor met height and weight standards, we'd burn almost one-third less fuel each year," Cutler said. "With that savings, we could afford one additional Carrier Battle Group, or two more F-35s. We might even start resembling a professional fighting force."
Mabus also says that sailor obesity has been found to be a major cause of depression and is directly responsible for poor adherence to military customs and courtesies throughout the Navy. Many sailors are overweight and remain in a state of such melancholy they are unable to lift their heads and give the proper greeting of the day.
"For a while," Cutler added, "we thought we had a scurvy epidemic, or a rash of unreported STDs."
Not everyone is convinced by the secretary’s “investment in sailors” approach, however. Some argue the concept of purposely perspiring through physical activity is anathema to traditional Naval core values of karaoke, liquor, and softball.
Operations Spc. 3rd Class Trevor McConico, President of the Junior Enlisted Association aboard the USS Nathan James (DDG-151), remains skeptical.
“I’m not sure why the Secretary Mabus wants to ruin our quality of life,” said McConico. “Next thing you know he’ll start requiring us all to actually produce no-shave chits.”