I wasn’t quite ready to start writing this blog but with the recent turn of events I just cant help myself from commenting on some things…
As some of you know, the Army relaxed its policy on mental health conditions. Now people with a “history of ‘self mutilation,” bipolar disorder, depression and drug and alcohol abuse” can try to get a waiver in.
My first question was WHY!? Apparently the Army is having trouble finding good recruits, and they want to recruit 80,000 more soldiers between now and September 2018. Now waivers aren’t a new thing by any means. They have been accepting folks who have tested a bit low on aptitude tests, or have a history of marijuana use (and that subject is a blog for a whole other day). These waivers aren’t super common, but they surely are on the rise, but the pentagon mandates that folks from this waiver class must be under 4% of the recruits.
My knee jerk reaction to this was WTF… but I supposed its also not ALWAYS a bad thing. According to what I can read, there need to be medical records, a psychiatric evaluation and some sort of “clearance.” I have an issue here, most decent mental health professionals worth their salt wont do any sort of “clearance” or demanding on paper that someone is safe, as people are random, and don’t always act as we predict. I usually myself receive a call a week or so with someone wanting to see me for the first time and write a letter of why they are safe to go to school, go to a job, or military. Unfortunately there are folks out there trying to make a buck and who would write a letter on a whim.
The only good side to this is that some people with diagnoses in their past, really do make recovery. What percentage that is, I couldn’t tell you, but I know a number of adults who had a rough childhood or teen years, and have overcome.
I suppose my bigger concern is, the military already doesn’t have really any preventative measures. For years researchers have been figuring out what sort of emotional traits lead to an increase in likelihood to get PTSD (if youre curious, read Telch’s work. While some thought it was unfair to brand folks, I suppose I see it a bit differently. If someone wasn’t physically fit for battle, we wouldn’t send them in. We would call that abuse, setting someone up to fail. But when it comes to mental fitness, we just look the other way and tell them to “man up.” The VA’s current numbers guess that about 31% of veterans have some form of PTSD.. so why don’t we do what we can to prevent it?