Medical

US Army re-allows waivers for recruits with history of mental illness

US Army re-allows waivers for recruits with history of mental illness

Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman John McCain has threatened to block Pentagon nominees until the Army briefs his panel on a newly relaxed recruiting policy that would allow those with mental health issues to serve, Inside Defense reported on Tuesday.

Elaine Donnelly, founder and president of the Center for Military Readiness, told The Daily Caller News Foundation that although the Army is now insisting that there hasn't been any reversal of the ban on recruits with serious mental health issues or a history of self-mutilation, the fact is that the Army shouldn't be issuing any waivers for these conditions at all.

According to the USA Today's report, people with a history of bipolar disorder, self-harm, depression, and drug and alcohol abuse are included in an unannounced waiver policy enacted in August. 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. Today, more than ever, we need to be recruiting the most mentally and physically resilient recruits possible for our military.

But since 2009, waivers for mental health have been banned.

"Few people would argue that military life is stressful, and can expose any weakness in a person's mental armor", Simpson said. The year before, the Army recruited 0.06 precent from Category Four.

"The decision was primarily due to the increased availability of medical records and other data which is now more readily available", Taylor told USA TODAY.




If the committee does not get answers on the issue, McCain said, "we stop confirming people for jobs".

"It is a red flag", she said.

To avoid repeats of past failures, the Army has laid out extensive requirements a potential recruit must fulfill, including "appropriate documentation" of the mental health condition, a series of memos obtained by USA Today disclosed.

The most recent USA mass shooter Devin Kelley, who killed more than two dozen people at a small Texas church, had been diagnosed with mental illness during his time serving in the Air Force, and escaped from a mental health facility after being caught sneaking guns on to his base to kill his superiors.

The Army has a poor history with soldiers who have been accepted under the standard bar of entry requirements. "I'm just not sure that if you take someone in who is doing this things - the cost over time is very, very, very high".


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