Army lifts ban on recruits with some mental illnesses

Recruits with a past history of bipolar disorder, self-mutilation, depression or substance abuse are no longer disqualified from service

Army lifts ban on recruits with some mental illnesses

Soldiers with the U.S. Army 3rd Infantry Division salute during a re-enlistment cermony at Camp Liberty, Iraq, July 17, 2007. Defense Dept. (Photo by U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. D. Myles Cullen)

Leada Gore
Alabama Media Group, Birmingham

The Army has lifted a ban on recruits with some forms of mental illness.

The change occurred in August but was first reported over the weekend by USA Today. The change allows people with a history of self-mutilation such as cutting; bipolar disorder; depression; or drug and alcohol abuse to seek waivers to join the Army.

In a statement to USA Today, Army spokesperson Lt. Col. Randy Taylor said the ban, which has been in place since 2009, was lifted in part because there is greater access to medical information about potential recruits. It also comes as the Army faces a goal of recruiting 80,000 new soldiers by September 2018, 11,000 higher than last year's goal.

"The decision was primarily due to the increased availability of medical records and other data which is now more readily available," Taylor's statement to USA TODAY said. "These records allow Army officials to better document applicant medical histories."

The Army did not confirm how many waivers have been issued.

News of the change comes after Devin Kelley, a dishonorable discharged former Air Force member, shot and killed 26 people during a morning church service in Sutherland Springs, Texas. Kelly has been kicked out of the Air Force in 2012 on charges he assaulted his wife and stepson and was later committed to a mental health facility.

———

©2017 Alabama Media Group, Birmingham

McClatchy-Tribune News Service