Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman John McCain (R-AZ) says he remains troubled by the lack of communication coming from the Trump administration and is threatening to block Pentagon nominees until he is briefed by the Army on a newly relaxed recruiting policy that would allow individuals with mental health issues to serve.
People with a history of depression, bipolar disorder, drug and alcohol abuse and self-mutilation are now able to obtain waivers in order to join the US Army, according to a report published by USA Today Sunday.
"These records allow Army officials to better document applicant medical histories", Mr. Taylor said.
Lt. Col. Randy Taylor did not immediately return the Daily News' requests for comment about how many, if any, waivers have been issued since the policy change.
USA Today first reported the new policy a few days ago, which has been enacted as the armed forces try to recruit 80,000 new soldiers through September 2018.
The real issue for me is the ability of the USA armed forces to offer those with mental-health issues real support-medical and otherwise-especially in light of what soldiers face, either those with diagnoses before they enter the armed forces or those who develop mental-health conditions after. The ban on waivers was originally imposed in 2009 after a wave of troop suicides.
In most cases, waivers must be approved by a general officer, they said.
"The command wants quality recruits coming in the Army, they've made that very clear, but sometimes to get even those high quality of recruits you need waivers". The recruiting officials said they have not been instructed to seek less-than-stellar candidates for the Army.
According to Army guidance, potential recruits with histories of self-mutilation must provide appropriate documentation that includes include a detailed statement from the applicant, medical records, evidence from an employer if the injury was job-related, photos submitted by the recruiter and a psychiatric evaluation, and "clearance".
"The Army is opening itself up to problems", said Dr. Elspeth Cameron Ritchie, a former military psychiatrist who retired from the Army in 2010 as a colonel.
Worse still, mental health problems could present themselves at inopportune times, such as during a combat deployment, she said.
The Army has a poor history with soldiers who have been accepted under the standard bar of entry requirements.