US Army lifts ban on recruits with mental health history
People with a history of depression, bipolar disorder, drug and alcohol abuse and self-mutilation are now able to obtain waivers in order to join the US Army, according to a report published by USA Today Sunday.
Though waivers for recruits with a history of mental health issues were banned in 2009, the news outlet reported that the latest unannounced policy change had been enacted in August as officials began to face the challenge of recruiting 80,000 new service members by September 2018.
This is the second year that the US military has lowered its standards in an attempt to reach new recruitment goals. In order to reach a goal of 69,000 new soldiers in 2016, the Army welcomed applicants that scored poorly on aptitude tests, granted waivers to marijuana users and even shelled out millions of dollars in bonuses, the outlet noted.
And yet, despite the changes, officials say accepting soldiers with a history of mental illness is possible because the Army has more access to its recruits' medical information.
"The decision was primarily due to the increased availability of medical records and other data which is now more readily available," Lt. Col. Randy Taylor, an Army spokesperson, said in a statement to USA Today. "These records allow Army officials to better document applicant medical histories."
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