US Army Quietly Lifts Ban on Recruits With Some Mental Health Issues

Henrietta Brewer
November 15, 2017

Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman John McCain (R-AZ) says he remains troubled by the lack of communication coming from the Trump administration and is threatening to block Pentagon nominees until he is briefed by the Army on a newly relaxed recruiting policy that would allow individuals with mental health issues to serve.

Seamands' statement comes after USA Today reported that people with histories that include "self-mutilation", bipolar disorder, depression or drug or alcohol abuse have since August been able to seek a waiver to join the Army. "These records allow Army officials to better document applicant medical histories".

Downgrading the authority to issue the waivers from Army headquarters to Recruiting Command also makes it more likely that waivers will be issued.

The decision to open Army recruiting to people with those conditions was made to meet the demanding goal of recruiting 80,000 new soldiers through 2018. Mental health waivers were banned by the Army in 2009, but Army spokesperson Lt. Col.


My 2 cents: Do we want people to get help for mental health or keep it in the shadows in stigma (and therefore untreated) because they know they will be precluded from doing those things that they want to do such as join the Army? Typically, when the service is seeking to grow, it accepts more recruits who need waivers to enlist or commission and it takes fewer when the service downsizes.

In most cases, waivers must be approved by a general officer, they said.

"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.

"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.


Simpson told The Daily Caller News Foundation that many mental health problems that are barely noticed in civilian life fully erupt in active service because of the stresses of the job. The year before, the Army recruited 0.06 precent from Category Four.

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 Army has a poor history with soldiers who have been accepted under the standard bar of entry requirements.


Other reports by iNewsToday

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