Army Rescinds Waiver Program for Self-Mutilating Recruits

By Jonah Bennett Published on November 16, 2017

The Army has decided to abandon plans to issue waivers to recruits with a history of self-mutilation or other mental health problems.

Army Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Milley said Wednesday to reporters that a September waiver memo, first reported on by USA Today, had been dropped after “terrible” messaging of the policy. However, Milley maintained the memo did not constitute a real change in policy, but rather delegated the ability to issue waivers to a lower authority — from Army headquarters to Army Recruiting Command.

“There wasn’t a change in policy,” Milley said, according to USA Today. “There cannot be a change in policy by someone who doesn’t have the authority to change policy. I know it sounds circular.”

However, Army officials previously told USA Today that the ban on issuing waivers, which was first imposed in 2009 after a spate of troop suicides, had been lifted.

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The original story also attracted the attention of GOP Sen. John McCain, chairman of the Senate Committee on Armed Services, who bristled over the fact that he hadn’t been informed of the memo before reading about it in the news. He also questioned whether the Army was the right place for those with a history of self-harm.

“Self-mutilation is something that comes home to roost,” McCain said. “Someone who self mutilates, I don’t understand the eligibility there.”

Milley spoke with McCain on Tuesday and told him the memo would be rescinded.

Moreover, the memo was also condemned by the Center for Military Readiness, a military policy organization, that argued not only should the Army not make it easier to obtain waivers, but the Army shouldn’t be handing out any waivers for these conditions at all.

The Army is trying to meet a recruitment goal of 80,000 for September 2018.

 

Follow Jonah Bennett on Twitter. Send tips to [email protected].

Copyright 2017 Daily Caller News Foundation

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