Army to allow recruits with prior mental health, drug abuse issues

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The outlet also quotes a psychiatrist who retired from the Army as a colonel in 2010 and is an expert on waivers for military service who says that people with a history of mental-health problems are more likely to have those issues resurface than those who do not.

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

U.S. Army recruits practice patrol tactics while marching during U.S. Army basic training at Fort Jackson, S.C., December 6, 2006.

An Army spokesman told the newspaper that expanding waivers for mental health is possible since the service now has more medical information about each potential recruit.

The Army is looking to enlist 80,000 new soldiers by next September.

According to the USA Today, the Army signed off on the new policy in August, but never announced it.

"These waivers are not considered lightly".

The Army has not released a total number of waivers, but Ritchie believes lifting the ban is the Army's attempt to widen their pool of applicants.

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.

"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".

The most recent USA 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 Army, however, said it made a "simple, administrative change" to how waiver requests are approved, Seamands said.

This is all in an effort to hit recruitment numbers, following low levels.

Mental health in the military has always been a point of contention, particularly for the Army, which for years have experienced more mental illness diagnoses than any other branch, according to Pentagon reports.

In the same period, waivers for marijuana use more than doubled, jumping from 191 to 506.

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