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15 November 2017, 02:02 | Lena Norman
Army lifts waiver ban for recruits with history of depression: 'It is a red flag'
The Army has long issued waivers to recruits seeking entrance for a wide variety of reasons, including criminal history, medical issues, vision problems and age.
In most cases, waivers must be approved by a general officer, they said.
Since this announcement came to light there have been psychiatrists speaking out about the potential dangers of expanding the waivers for mental health conditions - that can potentially resurface while in the Army.
A military policy organization has decried the U.S. Army's decision to make it easier to issue recruit waivers for self-mutilation and other serious mental health issues.
From 2016 to 2017, the percentage of Category Four recruits - referring to those who scored in the lowest category on aptitude tests - jumped from 0.6 percent to 1.9 percent. "We should've been told about this before it showed up in a USA Today article".
"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", said Taylor.
"There is a concern that doing this would allow people into the military that shouldn't be there", Ritchie said. "There's always a balance when you need troops".
If those problems do arise while an individual is serving in uniform, it would be expensive and time-consuming to discharge them, she added.
For example, a history of self-mutilation, such as cutting or burning, typically is a chronic condition and a sign of additional mental health problems, said Dr. Charles A. Morgan, a forensic psychiatrist who teaches at the University of New Haven and Yale University in CT.
"It is a red flag", she told the newspaper.
Self-mutilation is typically a form of self-punishment and not an attempt at suicide, said Morgan, who regularly works with servicemembers.
McCain, who held up several Trump nominees last month until he could be briefed to his satisfaction on the administration's approach to Afghanistan, said he would "stop confirming people for jobs" if the Army did not communicate with him and the committee on its new recruiting policy.
USA Today reports the policy has gone unannounced and was enacted in August. Jack Reed (RI), said he agreed with McCain. "Someone who self mutilates, I don't understand the eligibility there". But people who were waived for ADHD did just fine.
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