Friday, 24 November, 2017

Army will consider recruits with some mental health issues

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Melissa Porter | 15 November, 2017, 02:03

Waivers will be given for people with a history of bipolar disorder, alcohol abuse, depression and more, the report says.

The decision comes as the Army faces a steep 80,000-soldier recruitment goal through September 2018.

Last month, after a meeting with Defense Secretary James MattisJames Norman MattisAfter Texas shooting, lawmakers question whether military has systemic reporting problem In Africa, defense without diplomacy and development is a losing strategy McCain pledges "rigorous oversight" after Air Force failure to report Texas gunman's conviction MORE and a classified committee briefing on the Niger attack, McCain said he was pleased with the progress the Pentagon was making in keeping the committee informed and said he would lift some of the holds he has. The Army also dished out hundreds of millions of dollars in bonuses to incentivize enrollment. The Army issued a ban on waivers in 2009 amid an suicide epidemic in the military - a problem that still exists.

"It is a red flag", Elspeth Ritchie, a psychiatrist who retired from the Army as a colonel in 2010, told the newspaper on Sunday. "These records allow Army officials to better document applicant medical histories".

"Recent reports that the Army has changed medical entrance standards for those with mental health issues are inaccurate", Seamands wrote, according to Army Times.

Some conditions are riskier than others.

"Few people would argue that military life is stressful, and can expose any weakness in a person's mental armor", Simpson said. "Why take people in the Army who are already vulnerable to conditions we know people who are perfectly healthy are susceptible to in combat situations?" One example occurred in 2006, when a USA soldier who was accepted after a criminal activity waiver raped an Iraqi girl and killed her family. Randy Taylor, an Army spokesperson, said in a statement to USA Today.

Documents viewed by the paper put the onus on applicants to "provide a clear and meritorious case for why a waiver should be considered".

However, the number of waivers issued since the policy change remains unknown.

This is the second year in a row that the Army has offered waivers to those traditionally seen as less-desirable applicants.

Expanding the waivers for mental health is possible in part because the Army now has access to more medical information about each potential recruit, Lt. Col.

Kelley followed eight other US veterans to carry out shooting sprees since 2009, each case tied to inadequately-addressed mental health issues.

The burden of proof for the waivers will be "on the applicant", according to memos obtained by USA Today.

From 2016 to 2017, the percentage of Category Four recruits - referring to those who scored in the lowest category on aptitude tests - jumped from 0.6 percent to 1.9 percent.

Despite McCain's threat, the Armed Services Committee advanced four more nominees Tuesday.