CHARLESTON W.Va. — Students at Horace Mann Middle School in Charleston got the chance to eat lunch with a retired U.S. Air Force Major General on Wednesday.

Major General (Ret.) Doug Raaberg ate lunch with the students and shared a message of staying fit, staying in school and staying out of trouble.

“What we are really here for is looking at how nutrition factors into their education,” Raaberg said. “How it factors into their growth potential and healthy choices, which is really the theme that we bring with Mission Readiness.”

Raaberg was in Charleston with Mission Readiness, an organization of around 750 retired admirals and generals that advocate for the health of children, as part of the 2018 Southern Obesity Summit at the Charleston Coliseum and Civic Center.

“Us retired admirals and generals strongly believe in three things from kids today to stay fit, stay in school, stay out of trouble.,” Raaberg said. “Why? Because we want them to be eligible for an opportunity to come to the military or serve their nation in the future.”

“One of the things that we have found is nutrition and fitness are literally national security issues. Especially for recruiting students out of high school to come to the military.”

Raaberg noted that 71-percent of children out of high school are not eligible for military service because they are either overweight or don’t have the right education. He added that 1-in-3 students today are not eligible for the military because of obesity.

Earlier on Wednesday morning, Raaberg led a 3-mile run with health and education policymakers in Charleston to kick off the day’s activities at the Southern Obesity Summit.

“Fitness is a lifetime endeavor,” Raaberg said. “That’s what we were promoting this morning, to encourage the policymakers how important that is.”

“It’s a real pleasure to be here. I really appreciate what this state does for its children in terms of trying to give them a step up in terms of education and opportunity. We have a long way to go as a nation. That’s why Mission Readiness and retired generals strongly believe in schools like this and opportunities to advocate and champion our youth of today.”

Raaberg stated that over 40-percent of recruits from the military come from southern states that are here for the summit.

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