People with a history of “self-mutilation,” bipolar disorder, depression and drug and alcohol abuse can now join the US Army under an unannounced policy enacted in August, according to documents obtained by USA Today.
This decision comes as the service faces the challenging goal of recruiting 80,000 new soldiers through September 2018. To meet last year’s goal of 69,000, the US Army accepted more recruits who fared poorly on aptitude tests, increased the number of waivers granted for marijuana use and offered hundreds of millions of dollars in bonuses: In fiscal year 2017, US Army paid out $424 million in bonuses, up from $284 million in 2016. In 2014, that figure was only $8.2 million. Some recruits can qualify for a bonus of $40,000.
Lieutenant Colonel Randy Taylor, an Army spokesman, said that recruiting people with mental health issues is possible in part because the Army now has access to more medical information about each potential recruit. “The decision was primarily due to the increased availability of medical records and other data which is now more readily available,” Taylor said in a statement. “These records allow Army officials to better document applicant medical histories.”
Cue the joke about having to sign up and be sent to Afghanistan in order to stay there for God knows how long, doing God knows what.