Facing low recruitment levels, the U.S. Army quietly lifted its ban on allowing people with a history of mental illness, self-mutilation and drug abuse to serve in the military - despite warnings from the industry about the risks involved.
"With the additional data available, Army officials can now consider applicants as a whole person, allowing a series of Army leaders and medical professionals to review the case fully to assess the applicant's physical limitations or medical conditions and their possible impact upon the applicant's ability to complete training and finish an Army career", Army Lt. Col.
The Army did not note how many waivers had been issued since the policy was changed. In order to reach a goal of 69,000 new soldiers in 2016, the Army welcomed applicants that scored poorly on aptitude tests, granted waivers to marijuana users and even shelled out millions of dollars in bonuses, the outlet noted.
Applicants seeking a mental health waiver have to "provide a clear and meritorious case for why a waiver should be considered", according to one memo obtained by USA Today.
The real issue for me is the ability of the US armed forces to offer those with mental-health issues real support-medical and otherwise-especially in light of what soldiers face, either those with diagnoses before they enter the armed forces or those who develop mental-health conditions after. They to hope enlist 80,000 new recruits. The ban on waivers was originally imposed in 2009 after a wave of troop suicides.
"Few people would argue that military life is stressful, and can expose any weakness in a person's mental armor", Simpson said. Randy Taylor, an Army spokesman, told USA Today.
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"You're widening your pool of applicants", she said, adding that individuals with a history of mental health problems are more likely to have those issues resurface than those who do not. The year before, the Army recruited 0.06 precent from Category Four.
"The Army is opening itself up to problems", said Dr. Elspeth Cameron Ritchie, a former military psychiatrist who retired from the Army in 2010 as a colonel.
"It is a red flag", she said.
USA Today reports the policy has gone unannounced and was enacted in August.
The Army has a poor history with soldiers who have been accepted under the standard bar of entry requirements. But people who were waived for ADHD did just fine.