Troubled Army Recruits Become Soldiers, More Troubled; Who’s Responsible?

Facts matter: Sign up for the free Mother Jones Daily newsletter. Support our nonprofit reporting. Subscribe to our print magazine.


The Boston Globe reports that 11 percent, more than 1 in 10, of Army recruits this year were given waivers because they have criminal records (more than 6,000 soldiers). Now this is hardly news, the Army has been systematically lowering standards for years—aptitude and fitness levels, health status, moral conduct, down; age and bonuses, up—in fact each year more and more recruits with waivers (and tattoos) join the ranks.

But the coverage is missing the mark somewhat on the full extent of what these lowered standards mean. Partly they mean what the media is focused on, that we have a compromised armed force, that we are putting men with guns in combat situations, where some of our fighters five years ago wouldn’t have been considered fit for such a battle. After all, the Pentagon established standards, whether it be for asthma or high school diplomas, for reasons, reasons they also let slide during Vietnam, under similar circumstances.

Really, is anyone surprised? The Globe criticizes the Pentagon for failing to emphasize the increase in waivers in announcing the “good news” that the army is meeting its recruiting goals. It’s been meeting those goals for years, precisely because of lowered standards.

What no one is talking about is this: 20 percent of recruits with waivers (medical, criminal, moral) means more than a compromised fighting force; it complicates matters back at home immensely. Doctors in veterans’ hospitals across the country are trying to diagnose soldiers who are disturbed, troubled, injured, trying to decide whether their PTSD, their psychological issues, their physical ailments, are combat-related, a call that, if made, means $2500 a month per soldier, for life. A past of mental health issues, a criminal record, pre-exisiting health conditions, these are all up for grabs in the diagnosis. Clouds the burden of war, makes doctors jobs nearly impossible, and make us wonder, who’s responsible once soldiers return home?

We've never been very good at being conservative.

And usually, that serves us well in doing the ambitious, hard-hitting journalism that you turn to Mother Jones for. But it also means we can't afford to come up short when it comes to scratching together the funds it takes to keep our team firing on all cylinders, and the truth is, we finished our budgeting cycle on June 30 about $100,000 short of our online goal.

This is no time to come up short. It's time to fight like hell, as our namesake would tell us to do, for a democracy where minority rule cannot impose an extreme agenda, where facts matter, and where accountability has a chance at the polls and in the press. If you value our reporting and you can right now, please help us dig out of the $100,000 hole we're starting our new budgeting cycle in with an always-needed and always-appreciated donation today.

payment methods

We've never been very good at being conservative.

And usually, that serves us well in doing the ambitious, hard-hitting journalism that you turn to Mother Jones for. But it also means we can't afford to come up short when it comes to scratching together the funds it takes to keep our team firing on all cylinders, and the truth is, we finished our budgeting cycle on June 30 about $100,000 short of our online goal.

This is no time to come up short. It's time to fight like hell, as our namesake would tell us to do, for a democracy where minority rule cannot impose an extreme agenda, where facts matter, and where accountability has a chance at the polls and in the press. If you value our reporting and you can right now, please help us dig out of the $100,000 hole we're starting our new budgeting cycle in with an always-needed and always-appreciated donation today.

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate