Army pushes back on reports of mental health waivers

15 November, 2017, 02:06 | Author: Eloise Marshall
  • Report: Army to Allow People with Mental Health Conditions to Enlist

A ban was placed on mental health waivers in 2009 amid a surge of suicide among troops, but Army representatives say lifting the ban is now possible with better access to medical records.

In an attempt to meet the goal the army already has accepted more recruits who fared poorly on aptitude tests, increased the number of waivers granted for marijuana use and offered hundreds of millions of dollars in bonuses.

Those with a history of drug and alcohol abuse, self-mutilation, bipolar disorder and depression can seek waivers to join the Army, according to documents obtained by USA Today. "The Army did not respond to a question of how many waivers, if any, have been issued since the policy was changed". The decision came as the Army is striving to meet its goal of recruiting 80,000 new soldiers by October 2018.

Rather, Seamands noted that the Army Recruiting Command, instead of Army headquarters, will now grant waivers in certain cases to those with a history of self-mutilation and other mental health issues.

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. 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.

The Army may want you - even if you have a history of some mental health problems.

Mental illness behaviors can also disrupt the functioning of units and affect other soldiers.

"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.

McCain, who held up several Trump nominees last month until he could be briefed to his satisfaction on the administration's approach to Afghanistan, said he would "stop confirming people for jobs" if the Army did not communicate with him and the committee on its new recruiting policy.

For example, a history of self-mutilation, such as cutting or burning, typically is a chronic condition and a sign of additional mental health problems, said Dr. Charles A. Morgan, a forensic psychiatrist who teaches at the University of New Haven and Yale University in CT. The chairman of the Armed Services Committee said he learned of the Army's policy adjustment from the USA Today report and has not yet received appropriate information from the service.

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