Report: The Army Is Embracing Drug Waivers To Help Fill Its Ranks

Bullet Points
New Soldiers arriving for their first day of Basic Combat Training, Aug. 19, with Company F, 1st Battalion, 34th Infantry Regiment on Fort Jackson, S.C. are "welcomed" by drill sergeants.
Army Reserve/Sgt. 1st Class Brian Hamilton

The Army is increasingly relying on waivers for bad conduct or drug use for potential recruits in order to help meet its recruitment goals this fiscal year, the Associated Press reports.


  • Of the waivers issued by the Army in the first six months of fiscal 2018, nearly a full third "were for conduct and drug problems, mainly involving marijuana use," according to recruiting data obtained by the AP.
  • "In 2016, nearly 19% of the waivers were for drug use and conduct," the AP reports. "In 2017 that grew to almost 25%, and for the first half of 2018 it exceeded 30%" — far outstripping the 2% to 12% of waivers issued to the other three core branches of the U.S armed forces.
  • The Army has also increased its use of bonuses by some 30% this fiscal year, according to the AP data, doling out an additional $200 million in bonuses of up to $30,000 for a five-year contract to reel in new soldiers.
  • These measures haven't appeared to help: In April, a separate AP report revealed that the Army had only wrangled 28,000 recruits by the halfway point in the recruiting year, a shortfall that induced the service to revise its goals down from 80,000 to 76,500 recruits for the year.

Given the Army's recruiting shortfall, perhaps the DoD should consider taking another look at the convoluted Military Accessions Vital to the National Interest (MAVNI) program that's kept some foreign-born recruits from joining the ranks of the armed forces in recent months. Just an idea!

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Opinion

Editor's Note: The following is an op-ed. The opinions expressed are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Task & Purpose.

Air Force Master Sgt. John "Chappy" Chapman is my brother. As one of an elite group, Air Force Combat Control — the deadliest and most badass band of brothers to walk a battlefield — John gave his life on March 4, 2002 for brothers he never knew.

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