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

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People with a history of "self-mutilation", bipolar disorder, depression, and drug and alcohol abuse can now seek waivers to join the Army, according to USA Today.

"For all waivers, the burden of proof is on the applicant to provide a clear and meritorious case for why a waiver should be considered", one Army memo stated.

The statement, however, didn't address whether the Army granted waivers to individuals who had practiced self-mutilation, such as slashing the skin with sharp instruments - a behavior that can signal deeper mental health issues, according to USA Today.

The Army Times reported in June that the military branch had started offering "big bucks" bonuses and major incentives for soldiers, including a fast-track to active duty for some.

The U.S. Army said Monday it has made no changes to its policy for granting mental health waivers to recruits entering the service.

"These records allow Army officials to better document applicant medical histories".

"Perhaps the reason recruiters are struggling more than they did during strong-economy years in the past is because young people are not attracted to an organization that seems more interested in political correctness than in its primary mission - defending the country".

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The Army's decision has raised concerns among mental health professionals.

Tyler Officer said, "I wouldn't say severe mental illnesses should be allowed".

Following the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003, dozens of U.S. Army soldiers carried out abuse, torture and rape on inmates at the Abu Ghraib prison, including Reserve Soldier Lynndie Rana England, who had been diagnosed with a mental health disorder before joining the Army.

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.

USA Today also uncovered data indicating the increase in acceptance of marginally-qualified applicants.

The Pentagon mandates that each service accept no more than 4 percent from Category Four. While in 2014, the Army paid $8.2 million in bonuses, the number skyrocketed to $424 in 2017.

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