Faced with one of the worst recruiting shortages since the onset of the all-volunteer force, the Pentagon under President Joe Biden is now allowing people diagnosed with mental disorders to serve.
So far, the Defense Department has allowed onto active duty about 700 troops determined to have had attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, or ADHD.
This is the first time the U.S. military has permitted such active-duty enlistments without requiring troops to secure a medical waiver, according to a report in The Wall Street Journal on Tuesday.
In the specific instance of ADHD, troops can serve without a waiver so long as they have not suffered from the condition or been treated for it with medication within three years, the Journal reported.
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But overall, there are 38 medical conditions that the Pentagon is willing to overlook as long as the troops have not shown symptoms nor needed medication for treatment within three, five, and seven years, depending on the specific condition.
“The decision to put the equivalent of an expiration date on a previous developmental condition could be a model for similar changes around those treated for mental-health conditions, defense officials said,” the Journal noted.
The policy shift was issued in June. Pentagon officials told the Journal they will review the early cases within six months so they have a year’s worth of data to analyze.
Ironically, for an institution built on strict discipline and submission to authority, the Defense Department will also permit troops who have been diagnosed with “oppositional defiant disorder,” provided they have been symptom-free for seven years.
According to the Mayo Clinic, that disorder is defined by anger, irritability, arguing, defiance, or toward authority figures.”
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The Journal noted that supporters of this policy argue the military services will “increasingly struggle to meet their needs if adjustments aren’t made.” Ironically again, these troops, once in the military, are permitted to take medications that are banned before they join, because then they are prescribed by military doctors.
As The Free Press reported back in June, the Army reduced its educational standards to allow in non-high school graduates.
The military also has relaxed standards for tattoos.
All of the military services in fiscal year 2022, which ended on Sept. 30, either missed their recruiting goals or in order to meet their quotas, lowered their targets or called up enlistees from the delayed entry program sooner.