Start A Petition

Now I Get It! Opportunities for Criminals Are Not Limited to The White House!

US Politics & Gov't  (tags: army, recruits, criminal, waiver, volunteer, record, victims, pentagon, war )

- 3976 days ago -
So we're sending our criminals to fight our wars. No wonder no one is shedding any tears for our fallen soldiers. About 30% of our recruits must get a waiver, according to Pentagon statistics, & about 2/3 of those approved have been for criminal behavior.


We hate spam. We do not sell or share the email addresses you provide.


Sam H (410)
Tuesday November 6, 2007, 11:22 am
In anticipation of the story's disappearance.

Military May Ease Standards for Recruits

By LOLITA C. BALDOR, Associated Press Writer
November 6, 2007

WASHINGTON - Faced with higher recruiting goals, the Pentagon is quietly looking for ways to make it easier for people with minor criminal records to join the military, The Associated Press has learned.

The review, in its early stages, comes as the number of Army recruits needing waivers for bad behavior such as trying drugs, stealing, carrying weapons on school grounds and fighting rose from 15 percent in 2006 to 18 percent this year. And it reflects the services' growing use of criminal, health and other waivers to build their ranks.

Overall, about three in every 10 recruits must get a waiver, according to Pentagon statistics obtained by AP, and about two-thirds of those approved in recent years have been for criminal behavior. Some recruits must get more than one waiver to cover things ranging from any criminal record, to health problems such as asthma or flat feet, to low aptitude scores and even for some tattoos.

The goal of the review is to make cumbersome waiver requirements consistent across the services the Army, Marine Corps, Navy and Air Force and reduce the number of petty crimes that now trigger the process. Still, some Army officers worry that disciplinary problems will grow as more soldiers with records, past drug use and behavior problems are brought in.

Lt. Gen. Michael Rochelle, the Army's deputy chief of staff for personnel, said the review is necessary. Now, he said, many recruits who were arrested as juveniles for what can be considered youthful indiscretions minor fights or theft are forced to get waivers even if they were never convicted of the crime.

"I do believe it needs to be done," Rochelle said of the waiver review. "There are really anomalies out there."

The waivers require more time, paperwork and investigation, from detailed health screenings and doctor referrals to testimonials about past bad behavior. Depending on the seriousness, the final decision can be made by senior recruiting officers or higher-ranking commanders.

In addition, many waiver requirements differ from service to service, and some officials and recruiters say the policies should be more uniform.

The starkest difference involves Marines and drug use. The Marines require a waiver for one-time marijuana use, while the other services don't, and 69 percent of conduct waivers for Marines who joined from October 2006 to June 2007 were for previous drug use. It was 12 percent for the Army.

The bulk of the Army's conduct waivers during that time 71 percent were for serious misdemeanors, which can include thefts worth more than $500, any incident involving a dangerous weapon on school grounds, or minor assaults and fights. A waiver is required even if the recruit was a juvenile and the charge was dismissed after restitution, community service or other conditions were met.

According to the Pentagon data, the bulk of all conduct waivers are for recruits involved in either drug offenses or serious misdemeanors. Over the past five years, the overall percentage of recruits involved in serious misdemeanors has grown.

A bit more than 75 percent of the Marine waivers from October 1996 through June 2007 were for conduct, compared with about 73 percent the previous two years. In both years, the bulk of the remaining waivers were for medical issues.

Similarly, about 77 percent of the waivers for Air Force recruits in 2003 were for conduct, compared with 80.8 percent through June 2007. The Navy was the only service that saw a decline, with 56.7 of waivers in 2003 for conduct, compared with 40.3 percent through June 2007.

Relaxing some of the waiver requirements may make it easier for the Army to meet increased pressure for recruits in the next few years.

The Army is already strained by the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and needs to grow to meet those demands and be prepared to respond to crises in any other hot spot.

The Pentagon has recommended the Army be increased by about 65,000 soldiers to a total of 547,000, and the Marines be increased by 27,000 to 202,000. The services will either have to bring in more new people or convince more current soldiers and Marines to stay on.

Army recruiters attending a recent conference in Denver said they often encounter would-be soldiers whose records are tainted by minor offenses.

Several related the story of a 15-year-old who was trying to smoke out bees in a hive and accidentally set the hive on fire. The flames spread to a nearby house and caused damage. Police charged the youth with arson as a juvenile. At age 22, he tried to join the Army, and officials had to go through the waiver process to get him in.

In another instance, detailed by the Pentagon, two 14-year-olds had a fight at school, and police charged both with aggravated assault. One was charged with using a deadly weapon a shoe. That person is now 18, and needs a waiver to join the service.

Not everyone, however, is enthusiastic about relaxing the regulations.

At Fort Sill, Okla., Army officers said they already spend a lot of time dealing with discipline problems. And in a meeting with Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, a number of officers vigorously nodded their heads when he asked if that was a concern.

One officer told Mullen that when he was in Iraq he would spend long hours into the night dealing with "problem children." Mullen later said he is not convinced that increasing waivers leads to more disciplinary issues, noting that it is not unusual for officers to have problem troops. But he said the military will keep an eye on it.

Others suggest the need for more criminal behavior waivers may, in part, be a sign of the times.

The Pentagon's top personnel official noted the Marines' policy on one-time marijuana use and wryly wondered if even members of Congress could pass muster.

"That's a pretty tough standard," said David S.C. Chu, undersecretary of defense for personnel and readiness. "Not to be cheeky about this, but (if) we apply that standard to our legislative overseers, a significant fraction would need waivers to join the United States military."

RC deWinter (418)
Tuesday November 6, 2007, 3:12 pm
Oh brother...I bet there are actually plenty of right-wing law & order types who think sending criminals over to fight ia a great idea...get 'em killed and we won't have to pay to lock 'em up.

RC deWinter (418)
Tuesday November 6, 2007, 3:12 pm
Oh brother...I bet there are actually plenty of right-wing law & order types who think sending criminals over to fight ia a great idea...get 'em killed and we won't have to pay to lock 'em up.

Sam H (410)
Tuesday November 6, 2007, 3:35 pm
But Cate,

I'm sure the prison-industrial complex is not going to take that lying down. It's time for them to diversify!

Rebecca Forste (475)
Tuesday November 6, 2007, 5:57 pm
They could make it even easier to get recruits by legalizing marijuana and perhaps other drugs. Then, past drug use would not be a problem, and recruiters could overcome resistance in potential recruits by getting them stoned before they signed the papers. Furthermore, cannabis could be used to deaden the remorse present troops might feel over acts they may have committed as soldiers.

Joycey B (750)
Wednesday November 7, 2007, 4:00 am
Noted. Thanks Sam.

Carol Anne Knapp (123)
Wednesday November 7, 2007, 4:29 am
This has always been an option in times of war, it was done althrough out history.

Stephen Hannon (203)
Wednesday November 7, 2007, 5:47 am
This practice has been going on since WW II and continued to the Vietnam War. The way it works is those who get a waiver and join the armed forces, if they survive, they are given a full pardon, and their criminal history is expunged.

I agree with Cate, there are plenty of Right Wing Law & Order types who believe this is the best thing to come down the pike since sliced bread. Send em over, get em killed, and we won't to pay for their keep while they sit in prisons across the country. Hell, why not empty out all the prisons and send every convict to Irag and Afghanistan and Iran. We're going to need them would bush starts WW III

Past Member (0)
Monday November 12, 2007, 4:52 am
Well, if it's fighting, then they're going to go fight big time, so that looks okay to me. Drugs? no biggie. So, unless Uncle Sam is hiring animal abusers, wife, children, etc., abusers or hard core criminals I'm giving them a pass on this one.

Teresa del Castillo (1519)
Wednesday December 5, 2007, 8:06 am

Bette Moses (12)
Thursday December 20, 2007, 10:02 am
Sam, as much as I like you and respect you I think I've got to give you another opinion on this one. As you know I live near the National Training Center at Ft. Irwin 40 miles north of Barstow Calif. I'm on the Militay Affair Committee in Barstow and know loads of the personnel well from privates to generals. You have NO idea at the quality of army and marine personnel we have here. There are 2 Marine bases also so I know both. This story does a great disservice to the men and women in the army and marines, some of whom are on their 3rd deployment. The training they receive here is the best in the nation and some of the hardest. It's things like this that people swallow whole without delving deeper into it that are not only unfair but mke my blood boil and I'm an old lady and can't afford to boil much. We have a Veteran's Home here also so I see all facets of this and if any of them saw that article there would be hell to pay.

Lucky Children A (104)
Friday December 28, 2007, 1:54 pm
Noted with sadness.
I have never know war unless this horrible of Algerian, but I was a child. I consider me as lucky.
I suppose if there iraqui war was going on now with Sarkozy, French youg people were on war. I feel concerned. I am against war all wars.

People in so hard situation can loose their control, that iis not question of courage.
Now, we see the terrible damages and less people wish to go there, so the first coming is wellcome !
It is my own french opinion and never I should insult anybody neither USA which are a great democratie.

I continue to apologise for ma approximate language.

I do wish peace for all the world.
Or, log in with your
Facebook account:
Please add your comment: (plain text only please. Allowable HTML: <a>)

Track Comments: Notify me with a personal message when other people comment on this story

Loading Noted By...Please Wait


butterfly credits on the news network

  • credits for vetting a newly submitted story
  • credits for vetting any other story
  • credits for leaving a comment
learn more

Most Active Today in US Politics & Gov't

Content and comments expressed here are the opinions of Care2 users and not necessarily that of or its affiliates.

New to Care2? Start Here.