In an attempt to meet a recruitment goal of 80,000 new soldiers, people with a history of cutting, bipolar disorder, depression and drug and alcohol abuse can now seek waivers to join the United States Army. The policy, enacted in August, went unannounced to the public. It joins other Army policy changes like hairstyles, beards, and headdress.
To meet last year’s goal of 69,000 new recruits, the Army accepted more who scored poorly on aptitude tests, increased waivers granted for marijuana use and offered hundreds of millions of dollars in enlistment bonuses.
In a statement, Army spokesman Lt. Col. Randy Taylor stated expanding waivers for mental health depends on increased access to more medical information about each potential recruit. The Army issued the ban on mental health waivers in 2009 amidst a rash of suicides among active duty troops.
The decision was primarily due to the increased availability of medical records and other data which is now more readily available.”
“These records allow Army officials to better document applicant medical histories,” Taylor added.”
“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,” Taylor said.
These waivers are not considered lightly.”
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