McCain threatens to block nominees over Army waiver report

McCain threatens to block nominees over Army waiver report

Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman John McCain has threatened to block Pentagon nominees until the Army briefs his panel on a newly relaxed recruiting policy that would allow those with mental health issues to serve, Inside Defense reported on Tuesday.

Army officials lowered the authorization level at which the service can approve waivers for potential recruits who have had past "mental health issues", said Lt. Gen. Thomas C. Seamands, the Army's personnel chief in a prepared statement.

The decision came as the availability of medical records and other data increased, allowing army officials to better document applicants. To meet last year's goal of 69,000, the Army accepted more recruits who performed poorly on aptitude tests and increased the number of waivers granted for marijuana use.

The decision to open the Army's ranks to those with certain mental health issues, uncovered in documents obtained by USA Today, comes as the military service tries to recruit 80,000 new soldiers through September 2018.

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. Today, more than ever, we need to be recruiting the most mentally and physically resilient recruits possible for our military. The Army issued a ban on waivers for such individuals in 2009 amid an epidemic of suicides among troops. The recruiting officials said they have not been instructed to seek less-than-stellar candidates for the Army.


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?

"In a military environment, these and other behaviors have been disqualifying, due to negative consequences for morale and readiness, plus elevated tensions and risks for everyone", Donnelly said.

Worse still, mental health problems could present themselves at inopportune times, such as during a combat deployment, she said.

According to USA Today, the Army enacted the policy in August with no announcement. "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?" People with a history of mental health problems are more likely to have those issues resurface than those who do not, she said.

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