Many perspectives, 1 simple etiquette

In Troubling Move, Military to Recruit People with History of Mental Illness

Created: 15 November, 2017
Updated: 21 November, 2022
3 min read


Video Credit: RT

A widely circulated article by Fox News Tuesday reports that the U.S. Army, struggling to meet its recruitment quotas, will be lowering its standards for new recruits by lifting a previous ban on recruiting "people with a history of mental illness, self-mutilation and drug abuse to serve in the military."

The Army signed off on the new policy earlier this year because it is behind schedule to meet its target of recruiting 80,000 new soldiers by the end of September 2018.

The new recruitment policy will allow recruiters for the DOD branch to hire applicants who are bipolar, depressed, or have an addiction to self-mutilating rituals such as self-cutting with a knife or razor or self-flagellating or hitting to create bruises and welts.

Craig Bryan, executive director of the National Center for Veterans Studies at The University of Utah, told Fox News:

"I am shocked. This contradicts everything we have been working toward for the past 10-to-15 years."

Bryan says there is plenty of evidence to demonstrate that self-injury is a "stepping stone to suicide" and is "the single strongest predictor of suicidal behavior."

Bryan's analysis is especially chilling in light of the fact that most recent mass shootings were not simple massacres -- they were forensically categorized as murder-suicides, with suicide being the common thread in most of them.

According to the USA Today, which first reported the new Army policy, the military service branch quietly made the new recruitment policy official in August with no public announcement.

To hit last year's recruitment quota, the U.S. Army accepted new recruits who scored low on aptitude testing, increased its number of waivers for previous marijuana consumption, and offered literally hundreds of millions of dollars in bonuses, according to USA Today.

The Army paid out nearly half a billion dollars in bonuses in 2017, up from $284 million in fiscal year 2016.

But now the Army is issuing waivers for recruits who have a history of mental health problems. The news comes less than a month after a former Air Force soldier with a history of mental instability and domestic violence killed 26 people and injured 20 at a church service in Texas.

He was able to purchase firearms to carry out the mass shooting because of a failure by the USAF to report his crimes and mental condition to a national registry.

Army Deputy Cheif of Staff Lt. Gen. Thomas C. Seamands told Fox News the move by the Army is going to be "widely misinterpreted," adding:

"It's also important to note that the conditions themselves have been unfairly characterized. For example, a child who received behavioral counseling at age 10 would be forever banned from military service were it not for the ability to make a waiver request.

We're not prepared to close the door on such individuals who are otherwise medically, mentally and physically qualified for military service. We think this is the right thing for our Army, and the selfless young men and women who wish to serve."

Dr. Joel Dvoskin, a clinical psychologist and assistant professor in the University of Arizona's Department of Psychiatry, also told Fox News he believes lifting the ban is a step in the right direction:

"The label of mental illness is meaningless. There are a ton of people who have a history of something – some kind of emotional trouble – and they are fine. There is no reason in the world they couldn’t serve in the military. Stereotypes are pretty evil all the way around. Because of the stigma (of mental illness), we stereotype them."

Still there is a prima facie risk the Army seems to be taking with public safety, to provide military level weapons and combat training to people with a history of mental instability, powerful psychotropic drug use, and a greater disposition to suicidal tendencies.

What do you think? Please leave a thoughtful response in the comments below.