Mental Ills Biggest Reason New Troops Booted Out

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In an August story on the Army’s overwhelmed mental-health corps, we noted:

One anonymous mental-health professional told researchers last year that he spends a quarter of his time on “really sick people who never should have been let in [the military] to begin with.”

The Pentagon has just formally acknowledged his off-handed assessment:

Psychiatric discharges were the most common cause of EPTS [Existing Prior To Service] discharges in the Army, Navy, and Marines, accounting for (24.2%), (17.8%), and (43.6%) of EPTS discharges, respectively.

Such discharges played a major role in the Army’s attrition rate: one in five soldiers doesn’t complete his or her first two years of service.

Such discharges — administrative, as opposed to the standard honorable — take place only when the condition rendering someone unfit for military service can be shown to have existed before the recruit began service, and surfaced within the first six months in uniform.

“The great majority of EPTS discharges are for medical conditions that were not discovered or disclosed at the time of application for service,” the report says, “with concealment by the applicant being the most common scenario.” Surprise: it’s easier to hide stuff from an eager recruiter, trying to make his monthly goal, than from a drill sergeant trying to make a military.