U.S. Army Lifts Ban On Recruiting People With A History Of Mental Illness And Self-Mutilation

Individuals with a history of “self-mutilation,” bipolar disorder, depression, and substance abuse can now apply for waivers to join the U.S. Army under a policy quietly enacted in August.

USA Today reported on Sunday that the policy was enacted without announcement.

The decision to open the floodgates to those with mental health disorders and history of psychological instability comes as the service faces the goal of meeting 80,000 new soldiers through September 2018.

Last year, the army lowered its standards to allow soldiers who fared poorly on their aptitude tests to meet its goal of recruiting 69,000. It also increased the number of waivers granted for marijuana use and offered hundreds of millions of dollars in bonuses for prospective recruits.

According to Lt. Col. Randy Taylor in a statement, the Army is now able to expand waivers for mental health because it has access to more medical information about individuals who enlist. The army had previously banned waivers in 2009 amid a suicide epidemic among soldiers.

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

However, psychologists warn that the decision carries risks for those who enlist. Speaking to the publication, Elspeth Cameron Ritchie, a psychiatrist who retired from the Army as a colonel in 2010 said that people with mental health problems are more likely to have their issues resurface when they’re in the service than those who lead civilian lives.

“It is a red flag,” said Ritchie, who is an expert on waivers for military service. “The question is, how much of a red flag is it?”

Mental illnesses like bipolar disorder can be kept under control through medication, but self-mutilation may signal deeper mental health issues, according to the latest version of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Health Disorders (DSM V).

It’s worth noting that gender dysphoria–the psychological condition experienced by transgender individuals–is considered a disorder under the DSM V. 

Ritchie points out that self-mutilation may have an adverse impact on the morale of a unit and hurt its cohesion. A soldier who cuts could result in blood on the floor, and prompt the assumption of a suicide attempt and the potential need for medical evacuation from a warzone.

As USA Today points out, recruits with poor qualifications and low aptitude scores causes problems. In 2006, an Iraqi girl was raped and her family killed by a unit of U.S. soldiers—all of whom required waivers for minor criminal activity and poor educational background to join the Army.



  1. myddrinemrys

    November 14, 2017 at 3:01 pm

    This will end well….. not.

    Apparently, what we really need to do is open the floodgates to people who will need services from the already inefficient and over-burdened VA system……..

  2. Bobdole10

    November 14, 2017 at 3:20 pm

    I certainly don’t forsee any problems in the future with this. I mean, what could possibly go wrong?

  3. dancingontheheadofapin

    November 14, 2017 at 8:20 pm

    These men should NEVER be put in a combat battalion! Keep them state side in supply or housekeeping, but Never in an overseas combat unit! For the sake of the mentally healthy military, do Not insert the mentally challenged into combat missions.

    That is just common sense! That can get people killed!

  4. hahaha

    November 14, 2017 at 8:29 pm

    Do you really think anyone who is of sound mind would willingly get a job that pretty much guarantees that you die? Let them all join becuase anyone who joins the Army in the first place is a bit touched in the head~! The more insane the better we need people like they Muslims who are fucked up and will die for thier cause~

    • DMZ

      November 15, 2017 at 9:17 am

      What’s it like being a retard? And wtf is ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ all over your stupid post, no really?

  5. PunJabber

    November 14, 2017 at 9:47 pm

    So a lot more potential recruits will make the cut, and they won’t have to slash the armed forces.

    • disqus_v3SHzvCspj

      November 17, 2017 at 9:19 am

      Lowering standards is lowering standards. It’s not a tautology it’s a simple fact. How about reinstating the draft?

      • PunJabber

        November 17, 2017 at 4:27 pm

        The draft is slavery. If you’re going there, other profitable ways for the needs of the many to outweigh the rights of the few (or the one) come to mind. However, if a recruit doesn’t slash his arms (or make the cut somewhere else), he should be allowed to serve.

  6. @Menace

    November 15, 2017 at 1:45 am

    As a veteran, all I can say is this is a VERY bad idea. We are going to see more active duty and veterans take their own lives because of this mistaken rule.

  7. tn_tea _ partyer_420

    November 15, 2017 at 6:14 am

    let’s give mentally Disturbed people access to high-powered weapons what could go wrong?

    • calhou

      November 15, 2017 at 1:24 pm

      …….and armor…….explosives…….maybe missiles………

  8. DMZ

    November 15, 2017 at 9:14 am

    I was an Army recruiter when we had the big build up for gulf 2 – 40K enlistment bonuses, increasing the max age as well as allowing some criminal shit. Most of those that applied for criminal and medical waivers came back denied. Some got through but most did not.

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