Army lifts ban on mentally ill and drug abusers to meet recruiting goals

(FOX News) -- Facing low recruitment levels, the U.S. Army quietly lifted its ban on allowing people with a history of mental illness, self-mutilation and drug abuse to serve in the military – despite warnings from the industry about the risks involved.

The new rules green-light recruits who have bipolar disorder, depression and issues with cutting – a process in which a person takes a knife or razor to his or her own skin – along with those who bite, hit or bruise themselves intentionally.

“I am shocked,” Craig Bryan, executive director of the National Center for Veterans Studies at The University of Utah, told Fox News. “This contradicts everything we have been working toward for the past 10-to-15 years.”

>>VIDEO: Army to accept recruits with history of mental health issues

Bryan says there is strong evidence to indicate self-injury is a “stepping stone to suicide” and is “the single strongest predictor of suicidal behavior.”

The Army signed off on the new policy in August but never announced it, according to USA Today, which first reported the news.

The decision to lift restrictions comes as the military looks like it will miss its goal of recruiting 80,000 new soldiers through September 2018.

Read more at FOXNews.com

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