Recruits with history of depression, bipolar disorder can get waivers to join Army: report

Recruits with history of depression, bipolar disorder can get waivers to join Army: report
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The Army has reportedly lifted a ban on issuing waivers to people with a history of some mental health issues who want to join the service.

USA Today reported that those with a history of "self-mutilation," bipolar disorder, depression and drug and alcohol abuse will be permitted to get waivers to enlist, according to documents obtained by the publication.

Lt. Col. Randy Taylor, an Army spokesman, said that the policy change stems in part from the fact that the Army can now see more mental health information.

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“The decision was primarily due to the increased availability of medical records and other data which is now more readily available,” Taylor said in a statement to USA Today.

“These records allow Army officials to better document applicant medical histories.”

The new policy, enacted in August, went unannounced. It comes after the Army in 2009 implemented the ban on the waivers.
 
The Army is hoping to recruit 80,000 new soldiers through September 2018, which is a difficult task, according to USA Today. The Army last year made other changes to reach its goal of 69,000 recruits, including upping the amount of waivers it issued for marijuana use and letting more people join who did not score highly on aptitude tests.

“With the additional data available, Army officials can now consider applicants as a whole person, allowing a series of Army leaders and medical professionals to review the case fully to assess the applicant’s physical limitations or medical conditions and their possible impact upon the applicant's ability to complete training and finish an Army career,” Taylor said.

“These waivers are not considered lightly.”