(Kansas City Star) Army Sgt. 1st Class Terrence Hoard must reach potential recruits early to set them straight.

They think anybody can enlist. Many see the military as a last resort in a tough job market — but always an option, the youth assume. Truth is, the class of 2014 now leaving high school will face more difficulty qualifying for the armed services than ever in the 40-year history of the all-volunteer force.

So Hoard tells them long before graduation day: Don’t ever get caught with a joint. Work out, shed weight. And be extra careful about getting tattooed.

“We’re turning down twice as many as before,” said Hoard, who supervises the Army recruiting station in Grandview.

His office several years back needed to sign up 16 to 20 soldiers per month to meet recruiting targets. Now 10 or 12 will do.

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