A new national study says 75 percent of America’s 17-to-24 year olds are unfit for military service. Maine military officials say that’s a problem for our national security, and the time to address it is now. They met Wednesday at the Fourteenth Street School in Bangor.”Our dropout problem is very quickly going to become a national security problem, if it hasn’t already,” says Major General John Libby, Maine Adjutant General.He says the figures in a new report are stunning. Research from the Department of Defense says 75 percent of young adults can’t enlist because they fail to graduate high school, have a criminal record or are physically unfit.As these current and retired military officials met with children in Bangor, they said the answer is clear- better pre-kindergarten education.”There’s not enough pre-K groups to go around. There are not enough children that are getting enrolled in Head Start programs,” says Major General Nelson Durgin, U.S. Air Force (Ret).”We know as parents intuitively what you all know as parents, and what the research indicates. They are who they will become by the time they’re age five,” Libby says.They say more formal programs are needed now with more parents in the workforce.”What we’re asking for is a billion dollars for the Head Start/Early Head Start Program and a billion dollars over 2010 levels for the child care and development block grant, as well as renewal of incentives for early childhood education for states around the country,” says Brigadier General Robert Carmichael, U.S. Army (Ret).The report says investing in early childhood education would cut dropout and arrest rates. Major General Libby says the need couldn’t be more urgent.”I’ve got 300 kids– they’re kids to me, on the Pakistani border right now. We’re part of this nation’s national security and my ability to recruit men and women to the Maine National Guard is being impacted by the things we’ve talked about today,” he says. “All of which can be significantly improved by high-quality pre-K programs.”They’re urging Senators Snowe and Collins for their continued support.To find the report on the web, visit: missionreadiness.org.