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People with a history of “self-mutilation,” bipolar disorder, depression and drug and alcohol abuse can now seek waivers to join the Army under an unannounced policy enacted three months ago.   The decision to open Army recruiting to those with mental health conditions comes as the service faces the challenging goal of recruiting 80,000 new soldiers through 2018. To meet last year’s goal of 69,000, the Army accepted more recruits who fared poorly on aptitude tests, increased the number of waivers granted for marijuana use and offered hundreds of millions of dollars in bonuses. Expanding the waivers for mental health happening in part because the Army now has access to more medical information about each potential recruit says , Lt. Col. Randy Taylor, an Army spokesman. The Army issued the ban on waivers in 2009 amid an epidemic of suicides among troops.  The Army’s decision to rescind the ban for a history of mental health problems is in part a reaction to its difficulties in recruiting, in order to “widen the pool of applicants. “.The Army offers more bonuses to those who sign up for service. In fiscal year 2017, it paid out $424 million in bonuses, up from $284 million in 2016.  In 2014, that figure was only $8.2 million. Some recruits can qualify for a bonus of $40,000.

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