Army lifts ban on recruits with history of some mental health issues

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According to USA Today, people with a history of self-mutilation, bipolar disorder, depression and drug and alcohol abuse are now eligible for waivers to join this branch of the military. The Army also increased the number of waivers granted for marijuana use and offered hundreds of millions of dollars in financial bonuses. The decision came as the Army is striving to meet its goal of recruiting 80,000 new soldiers by October 2018.

The Army, however, can now access more information about each recruit's medical history, according to Army spokesman Lt. Col.

"These [medical] records allow Army officials to better document applicant medical histories", Taylor told USA Today. The Army policy is that with "proper documentation", such as a psychiatric exam, a detailed statement from the prospective recruit, medical records, and photos submitted by the recruiter, a waiver can be granted. It comes after the Army in 2009 implemented the ban on the waivers.

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U.S. Army recruits practice patrol tactics while marching during U.S. Army basic training at Fort Jackson, S.C., December 6, 2006. For example, in 2006 an Iraqi girl was raped and her family killed by USA soldiers. "The Army has made no such policy change and follows the accession standards prescribed by the Department of Defense".

"For all waivers, the burden of proof is on the applicant to provide a clear and meritorious case for why a waiver should be considered", one Army memo stated.

Following the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003, dozens of U.S. Army soldiers carried out abuse, torture and rape on inmates at the Abu Ghraib prison, including Reserve Soldier Lynndie Rana England, who had been diagnosed with a mental health disorder before joining the Army.

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

As of Monday evening, 12 News is waiting for a response from the Army about the approval process for these waivers and the possible risks associated with putting recruits with a history of these illnesses in high-stress scenarios.

The Pentagon mandates that each service accept no more than 4 percent from Category Four. While some point to a strong economy as the reason for the trouble making recruiting quotas, others think that other reasons could explain the difficulty.

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"In fiscal year 2017, it paid out $424 million in bonuses, up from $284 million in 2016".

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