The United States Army is now making it easier for people with some mental health issues to get into the Army.
An unannounced policy was enacted in August making it possible for people with a history of “self-mutilation,” bipolar disorder, depression and drug and alcohol abuse to get waivers to join the Army, even as the Army struggles to meet a goal of 80,000 new soldiers through September of next year.
“The decision was primarily due to the increased availability of medical records and other data which is now more readily available,” Lt. Col. Randy Taylor said in a statement to USA Today. “These records allow Army officials to better document applicant medical histories.”
While some of these disorders can be regulated through medication, issues such a self-mutilation can be disruptive to a military unit.
This is not the first time that the Army has lowered its standards in its attempts to try to widen its net to bring in more recruits. Last year, the Army, in an attempt to meet a goal of 69,000 new soldiers, the Army allowed in applicants who scored poorly on aptitude test and allowed more waivers for marijuana use.
The waivers for those with a history of mental health are a reversal of an Obama-era policy, enacted in 2009, that made it harder for mentally ill people to sign up for the Army, amid a wave of suicides in the armed forces. It’s unclear what the ban being lifted will mean for the Army’s mental health problems in the future, though the Army said that it will still require medical records and a psychiatric screening for its recruits.