The U.S. Army will now allow people with a history of certain mental health issues to seek waivers to join the service, according to a report.
The Army enacted a new policy in August that expanded waivers to potential recruits with a history of drug and alcohol abuse, “self-mutilation,” depression, and bipolar disorder, according to USA Today.
Lt. Col. Randy Taylor, a spokesman for the Army, told USA Today the Army decided to expand the waivers because of increased access to medical information for potential recruits.
“The decision was primarily due to the increased availability of medical records and other data which is more readily available,” Taylor said in a statement to USA Today. “These records allow Army officials to better document applicant medical histories.”
A ban on waivers was issued by the Army in 2009 after suicides among troops spiked.
The Army faces a goal of recruiting 80,000 new soldiers by September 2018. Last year, the Army had a goal of 69,000 new recruits, which it met by accepting people who didn’t perform well on aptitude tests and by offering hundreds of millions of dollars in bonuses. The Army also increased the number of waivers it granted for marijuana use, according to USA Today.
In a September memo to commanders, the Army detailed how a potential recruit with a history of some mental health issues such as self-mutilation can obtain a waiver.
The applicant has to provide “appropriate documentation," including a detailed statement from the applicant, medical records, evidence from an employer if an injury was related to their job, photos from the recruiter, and a psychiatric evaluation.
One memo states the “burden of proof is on the applicant to provide a clear and meritorious case for why a waiver should be considered.”
It’s unknown how many waivers have been issued since the unannounced policy change in August.