Army Mental Health Ban Relaxed Amid Recruiting Push

Recruits with history of depression, bipolar disorder can get waivers to join Army: report

The new policy, enacted in August, went unannounced.

The U.S. Army quietly relaxed standards over the summer to allow potential recruits to receive waivers for a host of previous mental health issues - including self-mutilation.

The active Army had reached 55 percent of its recruiting and 73 percent of its retention goals as of June 2, according to personnel officials, the Army Times noted.

The decision to open the Army's ranks to those with certain mental health issues, uncovered in documents obtained by USA Today, comes as the military service tries to recruit 80,000 new soldiers through September 2018. Randy Taylor said. "These waivers are not considered lightly".

"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 policy is that with "proper documentation", such as a psychiatric exam, a detailed statement from the prospective recruit, medical records, and photos submitted by the recruiter, a waiver can be granted.

Taylor said many "meritorious cases" had been found of highly qualified applicants who had been disqualified because of events that had occurred when they were young children.

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Since this announcement came to light there have been psychiatrists speaking out about the potential dangers of expanding the waivers for mental health conditions - that can potentially resurface while in the Army. "Somebody who had a depression once two years ago that was treated with a simple medication shouldn't be excluded from service".

The Army did not respond to a request for information on how many waivers had been issued for mental health issues.

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?

The most recent US 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 policy in and of itself is not necessarily a bad one, but its execution will be key.

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