In a controversial move, the U.S. Army has lifted a ban on recruits with a documented history of several different mental illnesses. The move was made because of the increased recruitment goals required to satisfy the needs of the U.S. military on its conquests throughout the world.
People with a history of “self-mutilation,” bipolar disorder, depression and drug and alcohol abuse can now seek waivers to join the Army under an unannounced policy, reported USA Today.
The change occurred in August but was first reported over the weekend, after USA Today obtained documentation.
Army spokesperson Lt. Col. Randy Taylor said in a statement, the ban, which has been in place since 2009, was lifted in part because there is greater access to medical information about potential recruits. It also comes as the Army faces a goal of recruiting 80,000 new soldiers by September 2018, 11,000 higher than last year’s goal.
“The decision was primarily due to the increased availability of medical records and other data which is now more readily available,” Taylor’s statement to USA Today said. “These records allow Army officials to better document applicant medical histories.”
In 2014, CBS reported that nearly one-in-five U.S. soldiers had suffered from a mental illness before enlisting in the Army, and about one-in-ten soldiers had thought about killing themselves prior to enlistment.
That number is sure to increase as the U.S. military increases its applicant pool to include those with diagnosed mental disorders and suicidal tendencies.
The Army did not confirm how many waivers have been issued.
According to USA Today, in fiscal year 2017, the active-duty Army recruited nearly 69,000 soldiers, and 1.9% belonged to what is known as Category Four. That refers to troops who score in the lowest category on military aptitude tests. In 2016, 0.6% of Army recruits came from Category Four. The Pentagon mandates that the services accept no more than 4% of recruiting classes from Category Four.
(Article By James Carter)