Boise psychiatrist responds to Army's mental health waiver policy


The U.S. Army quietly made it easier this summer for individuals with some history of mental health problems to enlist in the service, but a top general pushed back Tuesday on a report the Army had relaxed standards to meet increased recruiting goals.

Elaine Donnelly, founder and president of the Center for Military Readiness, told The Daily Caller News Foundation that although the Army is now insisting that there hasn't been any reversal of the ban on recruits with serious mental health issues or a history of self-mutilation, the fact is that the Army shouldn't be issuing any waivers for these conditions at all. Randy Taylor. More medical records mean leaders can make better-informed decisions about recruits with prior mental health issues.

USA Today first reported the new policy a few days ago, which has been enacted as the armed forces try to recruit 80,000 new soldiers through September 2018.

Rather, Seamands noted that the Army Recruiting Command, instead of Army headquarters, will now grant waivers in certain cases to those with a history of self-mutilation and other mental health issues.

"We're not prepared to close the door on such individuals who are otherwise medically, mentally and physically qualified for military service", he said. The Army issued the ban on waivers in 2009 amid an epidemic of suicides among troops.

Mental illness behaviors can also disrupt the functioning of units and affect other soldiers.

The Army's decision has raised concerns among mental health professionals.

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.

"It is a red flag", she told the newspaper.

The new rules green-light recruits who have bipolar disorder, depression and issues with cutting - a process in which a person takes a knife or razor to his or her own skin - along with those who bite, hit or bruise themselves intentionally. The chairman of the Armed Services Committee said he learned of the Army's policy adjustment from the USA Today report and has not yet received appropriate information from the service.

McCain, who held up several Trump nominees last month until he could be briefed to his satisfaction on the administration's approach to Afghanistan, said he would "stop confirming people for jobs" if the Army did not communicate with him and the committee on its new recruiting policy. But people who were waived for ADHD did just fine.