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.
At issue is a USA Today report that said the Army has lifted a ban on waiver for recruits with a history of self-harm, bipolar disorder, depression or drug and alcohol abuse.
"The burden of proof is on the applicant to provide a clear and meritorious case for why a waiver should be considered", an Army memo said.
The Army signed off on the new policy in August but never announced it, according to USA Today, which first reported the news.
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.
"Previously, these waiver requests could only be approved at the Department of Army Headquarters level", Seamands said. The Army issued a ban on waivers in 2009 amid an suicide epidemic in the military - a problem that still exists. They to hope enlist 80,000 new recruits.
In most cases, waivers must be approved by a general officer, they said. What this reflects is a desperation for more recruits, meaning that the number of qualified recruits applying to join the Army is clearly declining. "We should have been told about this".
The Army's decision has raised concerns among mental health professionals.
"There is a concern that doing this would allow people into the military that shouldn't be there", Ritchie said.
If those problems do arise while an individual is serving in uniform, it would be expensive and time-consuming to discharge them, she added.
The most recent US 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. "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?"