Army Personnel Chief: No Change in Standards for Mental Health Waivers


Following the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003, dozens of U.S. Army soldiers carried out abuse, torture and rape on inmates at the Abu Ghraib prison, including Reserve Soldier Lynndie Rana England, who had been diagnosed with a mental health disorder before joining the Army.

Elspeth Ritchie, a retired Army colonel and psychiatrist told USA Today that people with a history of mental health problems are more likely to have those issues resurface than those who do not.

But since 2009, waivers for mental health have been banned.

Randy Taylor, an Army spokesman, said the "primary" cause for the policy shift in August was increased access to medical records.

My 2 cents: Do we want people to get help for mental health or keep it in the shadows in stigma (and therefore untreated) because they know they will be precluded from doing those things that they want to do such as join the Army? "The Army has made no such policy change and follows the accession standards prescribed by the Department of Defense".

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Taylor said many "meritorious cases" had been found of highly qualified applicants who had been disqualified because of events that had occurred when they were young children.

"Unfortunately, this simple, administrative change has been substantially misinterpreted", Seamands said.

Army officials did not immediately respond to Stars and Stripes' requests for information about the recent changes to waivers or for the number of mental health waivers the service has recently approved. The recruiting officials said they have not been instructed to seek less-than-stellar candidates for the Army.

The most recent USA mass shooter Devin Kelley, who killed more than two dozen people at a small Texas church, had been diagnosed with mental illness during his time serving in the Air Force, and escaped from a mental health facility after being caught sneaking guns on to his base to kill his superiors.

"There's so many gradations of mental illness", Edwards said. "This is particularly true today, as we are engaged in a dynamic and asymmetrical war on terror throughout the globe. On the contrary, mental and psychological screening should be even more stringent". "Why take people in the Army who are already vulnerable to conditions we know people who are perfectly healthy are susceptible to in combat situations?" "Self-mutilation is something that comes home to roost". "Someone who self mutilates, I don't understand the eligibility there".