Senators Push Military To Approve Recruits Who’ve Sought Mental Health Care

Lawmakers are calling for a change in policy that disqualifies potential military recruits who have sought mental health treatment. During a recent Senate Armed Services Committee hearing, Sen. Dan Sullivan argued that it sends the wrong message to young men and women who want to enlist in the military, but may have a history of mental health issues. According to Sullivan, many of these individuals may either lie or not seek help at all if they know that seeking mental health treatment could disqualify them from military service.

The Calls

The military has been working to open up recruitment to a wider pool of qualified candidates, especially in light of a shrinking pool of interested and eligible Americans. However, past mental health diagnoses, including depression, anxiety, and other disorders, continue to disqualify many would-be recruits.

Sullivan stated that if a high school student interested in enlisting discloses a past history of depression that was treated with medication and therapy, they would be disqualified from serving. He hopes to address this issue with new legislation that would allow individuals who have sought mental health treatment to still be eligible for military service.

Sen. Richard Blumenthal expressed support for Sullivan’s proposal, stating that it’s better to have someone who sought help for mental health issues than someone who denies the need for it. Gil Cisneros, the Defense Department’s personnel chief, discussed efforts to reduce stigma and improve access to mental health treatment, but did not address the issue of past treatment affecting eligibility for military service.

In recent years, there have been some changes to accessions standards that have opened up opportunities for individuals with certain previously banned conditions, such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). In November, the Department of Defense updated regulations for 38 medical conditions, allowing some recruits to join without a waiver as long as they have met certain timelines for previous treatment and diagnosis.

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glora paul
glora paul
9 days ago

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