The Army has quietly made a change in policy that will surely not be good for the veteran suicide rate when all is said and done.
Not only is the new policy liable to increase the veteran suicide rate, but it is very likely it will result in soldiers being killed on the battlefield.
What is this new policy change? Well, the Army has decided to start granting waivers for people with a history of mental illness… That’s right, you read that last sentence properly, it says the Army will now grant waivers for people with a history of mental illness.
If you have not picked up on it from what I have written so far, I am not personally crazy about them doing such a thing, especially when they cite illnesses such as these being some of the things they may waive:
- Bipolar disorder
- Drug and alcohol abuse
Now, I can understand if it is a situation where someone as a 10-year-old may have been taken to or ordered to see a counselor by a court because their parents are going through a divorce. It is unfortunately way too common in America for kids to be put on an antidepressant for a brief period of time because of such things.
Kids are also often sent to counselors and put on drugs for Attention Deficit and Hyperactivity Disorder because they show signs of being a little rambunctious. When I was a kid if you got sent home from school for acting up, you got your ass end spanked and it left a reminder with you that you should behave the next couple days in school. There was no record of seeing psychiatrist or medications involved.
While things like depression and Attention Deficit Disorder may be overly diagnosed and treated in kids today, the other diseases on that list are things that indicate much deeper issues and/or are actual genetic illnesses that do not just go away when you grow up. They require a lifetime of treatment and management.
The military, especially the combat aspect of it which is and always should be the main focus, thus the main standard for suitability everyone should be measured against, is as stressful an environment a person will ever find themselves. We also know, even for those of sound mind, going into combat has an above average risk of Post Traumatic Stress.
America already loses an average of 22 veterans… Do we really want to see that number increase?
It seems pretty intuitive to me that if we are losing 22 a day to Post Traumatic Stress when every effort is made to recruit men and women of strong sound mind, that we will see a drastic increase in that number if we start accepting men and women that already have a history of an anxiety disorder or depression.
I have mainly addressed the consequences this new policy could have on service members AFTER they have served. Make no mistake about it, there are very real consequences this policy could have on active duty soldiers. Deadly consequences.
It should go without saying that when our troops are deployed they do not pack up and bring along a team of psychologist and psychiatrist with boxes of anti-depressants and other psychiatric medications. We need our troops fighting and our doctors caring for the injured, not scheduling hour-long counseling sessions a few times a week.
Additionally, just off the top of my head, some other problems with taking someone into combat with a history of one of the above illnesses would be things like the high probability of infection for someone who self-mutilates, taking extraordinarily dangerous risk when in a manic state if bipolar during a firefight and the risk a drug addict might abuse drugs if serving in a country like oh, lets say Afghanistan where opium is readily available.
I think it is pretty safe to conclude this by saying that I personally feel this is a BAD idea and see nothing good coming from such policy. Decisions made in regard to our armed forces should satisfy one important question… Will the actions or policy improve combat effectiveness? If an absolute affirmative answer of YES is not the answer you get, then it is either a waste of time or a bad idea.
How do you feel about your armed forces waiving recruits with a history of mental illness? Would you feel comfortable serving on the battlefield with them? Share your thoughts in the comment section…. Thanks!
Any officer can get by on his sergeants. To be a sergeant you have to know your stuff. I’d rather be an outstanding sergeant than just another officer.
—SgtMaj Daniel Daly 1873-1937