The US Army has taken a deeply controversial decision to allow individuals with a history of clinically documented insanity, as well as those with records of drug addiction and alcoholism to sign up as new recruits. The move comes as the US Army is struggling to meet its recruiting target for the new year.
Such individuals were banned from joining the US Army in 2009, however, this year, those who apply through a special waiver program will be allowed to join if the Army deems them acceptable candidates in spite of a less than pristine medical history.
Army Spokesman Lt. Col. Randy Taylor explained the decision in the following way,
“The decision was primarily due to the increased availability of medical records and other data which is now more readily available.
With the additional data available, Army officials can now consider applicants as a whole person, allowing a series of Army leaders and medical professionals to review the case fully to assess the applicant’s physical limitations or medical conditions and their possible impact upon the applicant’s ability to complete training and finish an Army career….these waivers are not considered lightly”.
The move signals a return to the Vietnam era practices of the US armed forces, whereby Army recruits and conscripts were often sent to front line battle in spite of clear warning signs of mental instability and a propensity for the use of narcotics and copious amounts of alcohol.
Many Vietnam veterans returned from the war, only to find that their conditions were worsened by the traumatic nature of the aggressive war in South East Asia. Many received little support. This, along with the economic recession of the late 1970s, led to a US wide epidemic of other mentally ill homeless men who could not receive proper treatment and whom proved to at times be a menace to society.
More recently, a US Airforce veteran with a history of mental instability, conducted a mass shooting in a Texas church. Many suspect that the families of the victims will now sue the US Airforce as a result.
Most famously, Bradley Manning (aka Chelsea Manning) was allowed to join the Army in spite of depression which dated from childhood. Manning’s life is thought to be in a permanently ruined state because of the decision to allow recruitment of someone with these conditions.
As US Army spokesmen have not highlighted the nature of the waiver program or how tough the scrutiny will be, the move is widely seen as one conducted out of desperation rather than out of any sense of measure and common sense.