Enduring low recruitment levels, the U.S. Army made a decision that would permit for more people to serve in the military. Sounds great except they are allowing those with a history of mental illness, self-mutilation and drug abuse to serve in the military. Warnings have been made that this is a risky move, but the Army has moved forward with this decision.
Specifically, recruits who have mental disorders such as bipolar disorder, depression, and self- mutilation such as cutting- using a sharp object to inflict cuts to their skin, hurting themselves in other ways.
“I am shocked,” Craig Bryan, executive director of the National Center for Veterans Studies at The University of Utah, told Fox News. “This contradicts everything we have been working toward for the past 10-to-15 years.” Bryan said that their was strong evidence to correlate self- injury as a path towards suicide.
According to USA Today, the Army signed off on the new policy in August but never announced it.
The decision to lift restrictions comes as the military looks like it will miss its goal of recruiting 80,000 new soldiers through September 2018.
The goal of recruits for the Army last year was 69,000 individuals. To achieve this goal last year, the Army accepted individuals who did not score high on aptitude test, they also offered more in bonuses.
Fox News reported that in fiscal year 2017, it paid out $424 million in bonuses, up from $284 million in 2016. In 2014, that figure was $8.2 million. According to USA Today, some of the recruits qualified for bonuses of $40,000.
The rule for mental health in individuals interested in the Army, they would not have been permitted, now recruits who would have previously been barred can submit waivers allowing them to sign up. An increase in waivers were given for pot use as well.
Allowing recruits with mental health issues is an even more frightening situation after the recent Texas church shooting last week. Devin Patrick Kelley was a veteran with a history of psychiatric problems who killed 26 people. After the deadly attack, it was revealed that Kelley made death threats against his superiors and escaped from a mental hospital during his stint in the Air Force.