In a shocking move, the US Army has announced that they will no longer be turning away recruits who have a history of mental health issues like depression or self-mutilation in an effort to help bolster their dwindling ranks. Given what we know about former military members turning violent back at home and how poorly the US cares for its veterans, this decision will almost certainly end in a tragically predictable way, as Ring of Fire’s Farron Cousins explains.


This year, the United States’ Army has had troubles filling all of the ranks that it needs in order to basically function at the levels at which they would like to function, so in order to fill those ranks they have decided to start issuing waivers to people with histories of self-mutilation, bipolar disorder, depression, and even drug and alcohol abuse, so that those people can now sign up and serve in the US Army. Now I am absolutely in favor of not discriminating against people. Perhaps they went through a period of depression, and they’re okay now. I understand that. However, how often does service in the military fix a mental problem? How often do people leave the military feeling mentally and physically better about themselves than when they went in? Increasingly, it’s becoming skewed in the other way.

PTSD is becoming far too common in troops that enlist in the United States military and have to go serve overseas in these desert wars that, for some reason, we’ll never stop fighting. And so now we want to take people who are already on the cusp, people that have histories of being bipolar or being depressed or harming themselves or abusing drugs and alcohol and saying, “You know what, we’re so short on recruits that we’ll go ahead and take you as well. And then guess what? When you get out of the military, and you’re feeling even more stressed out and depressed and turning to drugs and alcohol and exhibiting potentially dangerous behavior to yourself and people around you, the VA is not gonna do a damn thing about it because we’re gonna go ahead and list those as pre-existing conditions. So we’re not gonna get you the therapy you need. We’re not gonna get you the medicine that you need. And what’s gonna happen?” Well, we saw what happens.

We saw it happen in Texas a week and a half ago. That was what happens when you let these mental conditions of people who served in the military go untreated. People die. And that is exactly the only scenario that’s gonna play out with this decision by the US military. You cannot take people who are already mentally unstable, and I do not mean that in an insulting way, give them training, give them weapons, and then leave them with nothing, because that’s our policy. That’s what we do. As soon as they’re done, they get kicked out of the system. We don’t give them the treatment they need. We don’t give them the help that they need. You’re on your own. Best of luck. Please don’t go shoot anybody. That’s probably the situation that’s gonna play itself out here. And for the first time in a long time, I hope that I’m wrong, but unfortunately, we can look back at the history. We can see what happens, and pretty much go ahead and guarantee that this decision by the military is going to end in a disaster.

Farron Cousins is the executive editor of The Trial Lawyer magazine and a contributing writer at He is the co-host / guest host for Ring of Fire Radio. His writings have appeared on Alternet, Truthout, and The Huffington Post. Farron received his bachelor's degree in Political Science from the University of West Florida in 2005 and became a member of American MENSA in 2009. Follow him on Twitter @farronbalanced