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The Army is now accepting recruits with prior mental health and substance abuse issues

The Army has begun granting waivers to recruits with histories of mental health conditions and substance abuse, USA Today reported Monday. Mental health waivers were banned by the Army in 2009, but Army spokesperson Lt. Col. Randy Taylor told USA Today that the policy change, which went into effect in August, "was primarily due to the increased availability of medical records and other data which is now more readily available."

Under the new policy, which had previously gone unannounced, recruits with a history of self-mutilation who seek mental health waivers must provide the Army with medical records, documents from a psychiatric evaluation, and photos of their of their injuries "in order to provide a clear and meritorious case for why a waiver should be considered."

Last month, USA Today reported that the Army was increasing the amount of waivers it would give recruits for previous marijuana use. The Army wants to recruit 80,000 new soldiers by September 2018; in 2017, the force accepted more recruits who scored poorly on aptitude tests in order to reach its goal of 69,000 new soldiers.