Army Says Waivers Won’t Be Issued For Self-Mutilators, Others With Mental-Health Issues

news
U.S. Army photo

The U.S. Army has not and will not approve enlistment waivers for individuals with a history of self-mutilation or other documented serious mental health conditions, the Army’s top general said Wednesday.


Gen. Mark Milley, the Army’s chief of staff, said recruitment standards have not been adjusted to meet hefty accession goals as the service looks to grow its force for the second consecutive year, calling a USA Today report that indicated the service would accept some individuals with past mental health issues “mischaracterized.” The report cited internal Army documents and listed conditions including self-mutilation, bipolar disorder, depression or drug or alcohol abuse.

“The bottom line is there has been no change in standards,” Milley said during a breakfast with reporters. “Since 2017, there has been no one to come into the Army that has not met the Department of Defense standards for behavioral health and/or personal conduct. When it says we are letting people in with a history of cutting themselves, of self-mutilation, that is not true. When it says we are letting people in with serious mental health conditions, with bipolar disorder, that is not true.”

The only change the Army has made is to lower the level at which ascension waivers for most issues must be approved, the service said in a statement following the USA Today report published Sunday. That change, moving the level of authorization from Army headquarters to U.S. Army Recruiting Command, was quietly implemented in August. But the Army’s statement did not clarify in what situations it would grant waivers for potential recruits.

On Wednesday, Milley clarified it was not changing any categories of waivers that would be approved. The Army has routinely granted waivers for individuals to enlist or commission for a variety of reasons, including criminal history, medical issues, vision problems and age. Certain issues including felony convictions, serious mental health issues and criminal drug use other than marijuana cannot be waived by Defense Department policy issued in recent years.

Acting Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy said he and Milley spoke Tuesday with Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., to clarify the issue. He said the Army had been assured by the chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee that civilian nominees would not be held up over the reports. McCain earlier Tuesday had threatened such action, citing the USA Today report.

The Army is looking to recruit 18,000 new soldiers by September, but Milley said he has made clear that the quality of applicants is the priority over meeting recruiting goals.

“Here’s what we’ve told recruiters: If you make the numbers that’s great, but you will make the standard,” Milley said. “We will not reduce quality to gain quantity. Full stop.”

———

©2017 the Stars and Stripes. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

Veterans are pushing back against a Wall Street Journal op-ed, in which a woman with no military experience argued that women do not belong in combat units.

Read More Show Less

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. President Donald Trump was reeling from sharp rebukes at home and abroad over his surprise announcement last month to immediately pull American troops out of Syria when he flew into the al Asad airbase in neighboring Iraq the day after Christmas.

Inside a canvas Quonset hut, one of the arced prefabricated structures used by the military and surrounded by concertina wire, Trump received operational briefs from U.S. commanders suggesting a territorial victory against Islamic State was within sight, but the military needed just a bit more time, U.S. officials said.

Read More Show Less
Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Lisa Ferdinando

The Coast Guard's top officer is telling his subordinates to "stay the course" after they missed their regularly scheduled paycheck amid the longest government shutdown in U.S. history.

In a message to the force sent Tuesday, Adm. Karl L. Schultz said both he and the Department of Homeland Security Secretary remain "fully engaged" on the missing pay issue, which have caused "anxiety and uncertainty" for Coasties and their families.

Read More Show Less

After years of frequent mechanical failures ad embarrassing cost overruns, the Navy finally plans on deploying three hulls from its much-derided Littoral Combat Ship fleet by this fall after a protracted absence from the high seas, the U.S. Naval Institute reports.

Read More Show Less