The Army has now begun to accept people with histories of self-mutilation, bipolar disorder, depression, and drug and alcohol addiction to sign up, as long as they have a waiver. The reason they are allowing these people who suffer from mental illnesses to serve is based on the fact that President Trump wishes to create an even bigger military, which will require 80,000 new soldiers before September 30th, 2018. Last year, to reach their new goal of 69,000, the Army has put forth millions in bonuses, waved marijuana offenses, and even were a little extra lax on the aptitude testing.
The reality of more waivers for mental health is most likely due to the fact that the Army now has greater access to the medical information of each potential recruit, as Lt. Col. Randy Taylor said in a statement. This is a reversal of a ban on waivers that was put in place prevent troops from committing suicide.
“The decision was primarily due to the increased availability of medical records and other data which is now more readily available,” Taylor’s statement to USA TODAY said. “These records allow Army officials to better document applicant medical histories.”
Mental illness is difficult to define and enlisting recruits who have a history of mental health conditions comes with several risks, according to Elspeth Ritchie, a psychiatrist who retired from the Army as a colonel in 2020. “It is a red flag,” she said. “The question is, how much of a red flag is it?”
Less severe illnesses, like bipolar disorder and depression, can now be controlled with medication. But a condition like self-mutilation is a sign of deeper mental health issues, as it says in the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Health Disorders.
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