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 Marcia Purse

Can Those with Mental Illnesses Serve in the U.S. Military?

By November 6, 2009

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I don't think anyone should be surprised the answer is no. As per the United States Army's regulation 40-501, the Standards of Medical Fitness, mental illnesses are disqualifying. Section 2-27 Learning, Psychiatric and Behavior Disorders provides an extensive list of specific disorders and conditions. In example, here are the specific rulings regarding mood disorders such as bipolar disorder:

d. Current mood disorders including, but not limited to, major depression (296.2-3), bipolar (296.4-7), affective psychoses (296.8-9), depressive not otherwise specified (311), are disqualifying.

(1) History of mood disorders requiring outpatient care for longer than 6 months by a physician or other mental health professional (V65.40), or inpatient treatment in a hospital or residential facility is disqualifying.

(2) History of symptoms consistent with a mood disorder of a repeated nature that impairs school, social, or work efficiency is disqualifying.

And yet there are any number of individuals with mental illness who are serving in the military. Scan any discussion board on this topic and you will find scads of advice about how to circumvent the regulations most in the vein of don't ask, don't tell. I even read one woman's story about how her recruiter counseled her to stop her meds and not include her psychiatric history in her medical write-up. Needless to say she washed out of boot camp.

In light of yesterday's tragic event at Foot Hood and given the reported lack of mental stability of the perpetrator, Major Nidal Malik Hasan, we are going to see a lot of discussion over the next few weeks regarding mental health of those serving in our armed forces. What is your take on this? ~Kimberly

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November 6, 2009 at 11:36 am
(1) raginald says:

is the military
a form of mental Illness????
will any sound healthy Person ever join
Military, Police, Justice????
where will we find sound healthy persons????
can a person not being sound healthy
judge over any person????
who will ask such forbidden questions?
who will allow an answer?

November 6, 2009 at 11:41 am
(2) beth says:

Given the events of yesterday, I think that the timing of this post is insensitive. I think this is an important topic, but I think it would be best covered at a different time.

November 6, 2009 at 11:44 am
(3) beth says:

I should have written more, but a lot of the information at this point is at the “speculation” stage. I know it’s good to cover things early, but we don’t know enough about the people involved to speculate about what happened or how. A lot of misconceptions about people with mental illnesses are built on this kind of speculation in the press.

November 6, 2009 at 12:13 pm
(4) todd says:

Though I agree, those with mental illness should not serve in the military, my service in the military was the proudest I’ve felt in my life.
I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder while in the military and subsequently discharged. It was a devastating period in my life, but I understand the reasoning.
Looking back, I know I could not carry out the duties required of me having experienced the highs and lows this illness has taken me through.
However, the Dept of Defense does employ civilians with mental illnesses who support military operations.
To raginald, please explain your cryptic musings.
To beth, regarding the Fort Hood incident, there has been no mention of mental illness as an excuse for these tragic events.
Sane or not, the man lost his mind and killed innocents because he was selfish and couldn’t reconcile his duties with his beliefs.

September 12, 2011 at 11:13 am
(5) David Auge says:

todd – I was recently diagnosed with bipolar…which all came out while I was a cadet at the United States Military Academy. I can relate to what you say – “feel the proudest while serving” because that was the same way I felt…now I’m trying to get that again and it is hard to find – its not like you can go from – WOO HOO – service to country to cash store teller…

November 6, 2009 at 12:32 pm
(6) William Fann says:

Additionally, all pilots, whether general aviation or professional, is a disqualifying condition for an FAA physical certificate; therefore, they are unable to fly. My Atypical Bipolar diagnosis immediately ended my career, at the age of 55, with a major airline. I understand and agree with the FAA’s position on this; still, it was a devastating blow to me. My passion, from the age of five, was to fly. I am fortunate that in spite of my mood disorder, I was able to fly 13 years for the Navy and 17.5 years with a major airline before my mood disorder became problematic and diagnosed.

November 6, 2009 at 12:37 pm
(7) William Fann says:

raginald, I don’t understand your apparent cynicism. Is that a symptom of Bipolar?

November 6, 2009 at 1:05 pm
(8) K says:

Seems to me that there should be a re-evaluation of our present military psychologocial counseling team. If the guy wanted out, why wasn’t he allowed out of the service? There was no excuse for this. The guy showed signs of breaking down before he killed these people. Somebody in the military medical department was negligent to allow Hasan to continue to treat fellow military personnel while he himself was a ticking time bomb allowed to explode and kill other military personnel. Somebody was Hasan’s superior and this person should have known Hasan was not fit for duty and allowed him to be discharged from the service. Hasan’s superior officer should be held accountable for this violent rampage of a sick man. Hasan was sick and he showed signs of mental illness prior to his rampage.

November 6, 2009 at 1:40 pm
(9) raginald says:

did any American listen to that???
is what we see today
a consequence???

November 6, 2009 at 1:44 pm
(10) Janice says:

My son has had a mental illness since age nine suffering with depression. At age eighteen he was diagnosed with Bipolar disorder I. Keeping him complaint on his medication was a struggle particularly after puberty. With an IQ of 142 people had difficulty believing he had a mental disorder. In March of 2001 he announced he was cured of his MI and against our wishes and his family doctors wishes he joined the Navy. Our son naturally scorned high on all entrance exams but told his recruiting officer he had been on medication for Bipolar disorder in the past. The officer asked him if he was currently on medication and our son said no, the officer said well then put NO on the application. In essence the recruiting officer encourage our son to lie on a government form. After six short months our son was hospitalized with a sever manic episode, actually the worst he has ever had. The military contacted us and we told them he had Bipolar disorder and he was discharged with a dishonorable discharge. When I contacted his CO he told him the Charlotte recruiting officer told him not to enter the information regarding his Bipolar disorder, the CO told me it was not the recruiting officers obligation to tell the truth that it was our sons. The CO further added that we were lucky the Navy did not prosecute our son and lock him in the brig! Since our sons discharge from the Navy (of which he loved) his life has gone down hill as he truly felt a failure. In light of the tragedy at Ft. Hood the military must start to take some responsibility for their actions and obligations to society.

November 6, 2009 at 1:50 pm
(11) Marie says:

The Armed Forcesbehaviour makeup is one of high stress, unexpected outcomes, uncertainty at all times. I think this is not a sound environment for someone with mood disorders.

November 6, 2009 at 2:29 pm
(12) entsala says:

raginald, you’re an ass

November 6, 2009 at 2:39 pm
(13) Hue says:

I have a job that is stressful and it sometimes gets the better of my health. I think being in the military would be very unhealthy because of its intensity (even on a base…not on the line of fire). My (and everyone’s) health is my number one priority. Without it, I can’t “be all that I can be”.
I am curious. I’ve met 4 men who were in the service and then were discharged because they “became” schizophrenic. None of them was on combat duty. What would make that happen? I thought that schizophrenia appeared in younger people.

November 6, 2009 at 3:27 pm
(14) Meghan says:

A lot of people talk to me about returning to nursing even though I have explained why this is not going to happen. I was able to barely function for several years before a manic episode caused me to make decisions that were completely against my true nature and put the patients I was caring for in danger. I care enough about the patients I would have cared for if I continued nursing to surrender my license. I did it because I didn’t want to land in a place of my illness where I could fool myself and others that I was safe and get another nursing position. I could truly endanger someone due to poor judgement, delusional thinking, impulsiveness, and all the other lovely stuff that goes with bipolar disorder. If you have a psychiatric disorder you have to be honest with your limits. Do you really think it is safe for you and the innocent people you will come in contact with to stop your meds and then put yourself in such a stressful situation such as boot camp or fighting in a war? Knowing that stress is high up on the list triggers of a psychiatric crisis? Without meds & proper support? It’s just irresponsible. Putting your own life in danger is one thing (even though you would be hurting loved ones) but knowingly putting innocent people in danger is just wrong.

April 17, 2011 at 5:23 pm
(15) kathryn says:

I wish that some people with bipolar can see what us nurses can see. It’s easier for nurses to identify this than an average person especially who knows nothing about psychology. It took a couple of years before my partner finally embraced the illness bipolar that’s been taking control over her life. Denial is usually a phase when a person develops an illness to a certain degree of severity.

November 6, 2009 at 5:30 pm
(16) Doe says:

Had a very similiar situation with my daughter and the ARMY. She informed us about joining the Army. A total surprise, as she had been accelerated classes in HS and College. All this happened in a matter of a few weeks. When she said that she was signing final papers at the local recruiter’s office in a few days, I took it upon myself to confront the recruiter. I advised him that she was being treated for bipolar. His response was,” Once she signs those papers, she’s the Army problem, not mine!” I asked him if he was going to advise the Army of our conversation, to which he replied,” She’s over 18 and is able to decide for herself.” I fired back with, “…she’s manic now and couldn’t make a good decision if her life depended on it.” Needless to say, she entered the Army was accused of being not compliant, unable to follow directions and discharged after 14 weeks of physcial, mental and verbal abuse. They threw her on a bus and sent home a very disturbed young woman who now had post-traumatic stress syndrome on top of bipolar. We were lucky she didn’t do anything harmful to herself or others during that entire period. Since this event, she has gotten and remained on meds and therapy and is doing quite well. My sincerest condolences to the families involved at Ft. Hood. MILITARY WAKE UP AND START SCREENING RECRUITS AND IF A PARENT COMES IN TO FULLY INFORM YOU OF A SITUATION DON’T DISMISS THEM!!!!! PLEASE!!!!!

November 6, 2009 at 5:55 pm
(17) Marian Johnson says:

My son was in the Navy and then the Air Force Reserves where he often served long, stressful hours in support of the Iraq war. In his 19th year, he collapsed mentally. Sure that he was bipolar (I am), he went to the Military psychiatrist. There he was diagnosed ” depressed” and put on anti-depressants. Of course that amplified the problem. The psychiatrist kept prescribing different anti-depressants and wrote in his record that John’s only problem was that he “thought he was bipolar”. Finally my son found a well-respected psychiatrist off base, who saw him pro bono. He, of course, immediately diagnosed him bipolar. Meanwhile, the Air Force kept him on working full-time. The stress was unbearable! John feels the military psychiatrist couldn’t believe someone with bipolar could have severed almost 20 years in the military without previous problems, or maybe he didn’t even recognize the illness. He did retire at 20 years, and now the VA has determined that John is 100% disabled. With the “mistreatment” by the military doctors, no wonder! Even the therapist he was sent to called him “My enigma”. No, the military should never take a person who has a mental illness, and if they do and the illness manifests itself, then they should be responsible!

November 6, 2009 at 6:53 pm
(18) Karen says:

I am diagnosed Bipolar 1, under doctor’s care, properly medicated, and have been stable for years. My son joined the Marine Corps and came out of boot camp more excited (hypomanic?) than I’ve ever seen him. Since being at his permanent duty station, he has suffered severe suicidal depression. He has also been targeted and (in my opinion, based on the research I’ve done) been a victim of hazing. After he admitted to me that he had a knife at his wrist, he researched Bipolar Disorder on the internet and realized (admitted?) it described him. I told him he MUST talk to a doctor. I told him they would HELP him. Certainly the Marine’s “Core Value of Honor” would honor one of their own, and see that he gets the help he needs. Since seeing a military counselor and a psychiatrist who confirmed my son’s Bipolar 1 diagnosis, he has been treated even worse by the “higher ups” in his infantry unit. They’ve accused of “lying to get out of the Marine Corps, trying to f*#@ the unit,” and instructed the entire unit to ostrisize my son. One of the Marines in his unit died during training from heat exhaustion and another tried to commit suicide. As I understand the military enlistment application has questions regarding childhood ADD, which my son was briefly medicated for in 4th grade. His recruiting officer told him to answer “no.” Is it possible that the military encourages young men and women to deny/lie about their mental illnesses, and not get the proper treatment they need to survive and thrive? Does it foster an atmosphere which can trigger mania, severe depression, and worsen existing conditions? And as my son has told me, he is now being punished for it.

November 7, 2009 at 12:08 am
(19) Bill says:

Over 69 years, I have been a family member, and for 40+ years, I was a provider of services. Presently, I am also a consumer formally dianosed with bipolar disorder. During my years as a provider, I worked with a young officer who was attached to a U.S. Air Force base, and was
self-referred. He told me that our counseling sessions had to be in strict confidence, since his military career would be finished if his superiors learned of his receiving any kind of counseling.

November 7, 2009 at 1:46 pm
(20) jordan says:

I worked for years, but at age 49, my bipolar symptoms forced me to stop. My last suicide attempt was in june & I was hospitalized for 3 weeks. Due to my medication, I am back on track and would like to do volunteer for mentally challenged people or terminally ill children. My boyfriend thinks this is too much for me, but he needs to understand i need to do something valuable with my time or I will become super depressed. also, why is it so hard for someone with bipolar to qualify for disability? i’d appreciate any advice or success stories.

March 28, 2011 at 2:53 am
(21) kim says:

im schizophrenic and i got on dissability easily it was about a 3 month wait

November 7, 2009 at 2:29 pm
(22) vshope says:

There were signs maybe they were subtle. The suspect had some problems during his internship that he was counselled for. Perhaps, this was something that should have been followed especially when he was told he was going to Iraq. He admantly objected to going- this when he should have had a psych eval. Most of all, he was an outspoken objecter to the wars. I think that should have been enough to get him out of the Army which is what he apparently really wanted. I believe the Army needs to evaluate it mental health workers at least every 6 months and watch for signs mental illness help those that have temporary problems and give those that have major problems a nedical or honorable discharge. In conclusion, the army screwed up.

November 7, 2009 at 5:48 pm
(23) Paula says:

They already do. I live near the most deployed army base in the nation. While inpatient at our local hospital, I found that probably near half the patients are military and not all of them are being sectioned out following hospitalization (in 2001 they made up maybe a quarter of the patients). These guys and gals are suffering from depression, PTSD, bipolar disorder, anxiety, and any number of other mental illnesses. All they seem to talk about while in the hospital is getting out and getting high and/or drunk. Many of them are losing their marriages due to the stresses of the army and having a mental illness. These are good guys. They have put their lives on the line for us, yet they are getting the bum’s rush from the army.

November 7, 2009 at 7:32 pm
(24) Nuttybythecoast says:

America’s soldiers are great and our Armed Forces (although they’re sometimes fighting the wrong war) are the best in the world.

HOWEVER: understand that military recruiters have quotas to fill and that they’ll pretty much do anything short of clubbing baby seals, to fill those quotas!!! As one who served (and never in a combat zone) before diagnosed with BPD, I am grateful that nothing messed up my life, or that of others.

Regarding the Ft. Hood tragedy, the issue of mental illness has been raised, but that is unfortunately only a smoke screen to prevent open discussion about muslims in the military, I’m afraid. In order to “avoid racism”, the media and politicians will probably just call him a nut, since predjudice against mental health victims is still very much accepted.

November 7, 2009 at 7:34 pm
(25) Sha says:

Just last week in my abnormal psych class we were discussing the different mood disorders and those most likely to seek treatment. My questions to the instructor was are the psychologist likely to seek treatment if they are experiencing these problems or will they just try to deal with it themselves? Perfect example is Major Hasan, certainly he was having some serious disorder problems and never sought out help. I believe that they should go through some type of yearly mental type exam to make sure they are functioning properly especially if in the military to hopefully avoid these type of tragic incidents. Prayers to the families.

November 7, 2009 at 11:50 pm
(26) pat says:

Oh come on. This was an act of terrorism. The guy was Muslim, did not want to have to go fight other Muslims. Instead, he thought it was right for them to kill us. So, when he couldn’t get out of the service (which gave him a very nice, FREE education to take with him), he did what he thought was right…kill the infidels.
Was he disturbed….sure. Should he have been counseling anybody…no. Should the military have picked up on his Jihadist rants…yes. But I think the real bottom line is that he was on a Jihad rampage, no matter what “frame of mind” or “mood” he was in.

November 8, 2009 at 11:14 am
(27) Cesar says:

I dont understand how they get in the military services, when the principal test to join the army is the MIB (medical report) that indicate when you was treatecdfor any pschiatric or any other condition in your life and that is irrevocable.

November 8, 2009 at 7:35 pm
(28) pat says:

They get in because they are encouraged to lie.
It is hard enough to work FOR the military as a civilian (or anywhere else, for that matter), but to add the pressure of military life, discipline, and possibly combat to the life of someone struggling with bipolar is asking for disaster.

November 9, 2009 at 11:47 am
(29) Denny says:

As someone with bipolar, I am tired of people assuming that murderous lunatics are always mentally ill. The news outlets often point this out whenever they can. The fact is, there are people who are capable of committing heinous acts without being mentally ill. There are other ‘justifications’, such as racism, religious convictions, revenge, etc.

I would rather know that someone in law enforcement or the military (or anyone with open access to firearms) is able to admit and be treated for mental illness without losing their jobs. Because of these rules against mental illness, they refuse to seek help.

The fact is, about 1 in 10 Americans have a mental disorder. Many of them are in the military. Let’s allow them to be treated rather than kicked out. Obviously, there would be high risk cases where more appropriate action would need to take place, but I believe these would be the exception.

Just my .02

December 2, 2009 at 5:56 am
(30) Jane Doe says:

I strongly believe that the increase in suicides among young soldiers not having been deployed is a result of culture. The result of emotional abuse that person has received while serving our country … not the physical training, not the classroom instruction, not the yelling, but perhaps the part where certain soldiers are targeted for verbal abuse. Combine that with sleep depreivation (3 – 4 hours each night) and strict food restrictions and its no surprise. Then to make matters worse they are sent to mental health hospitals where they are put on mind altering drugs with a whole new set of problems.

December 4, 2009 at 10:39 am
(31) twinkles says:

Yes, I’m sure a mentally ill person can serve in the military IF they lie to get in. However, it is the most unwise and possibly dangerous thing to do – for the patient as well as his comrades. My own son is mentally ill (seriously at times) and is desperately wanting to join the military. I’ve told him it would be a horrible decision as the stress of the job would only exascerbate the illness. Still, the lure of paid college and the escape and adventure is appealling to him. I imagine that there are thousands of mentally ill soldiers serving in the military as I write this, and it’s scary, because along with depression comes anxiety and then psychosis and then who knows what could happen! If you are mentally ill, you have hope of a bright, successful future – just don’t look to the military to accomplish that – it’s not worth it. Don’t lie to get in and put yourself and others in the line of friendly fire, so-to-speak. And, God Bless You.

June 22, 2010 at 9:44 am
(32) Perry says:

I believe anyone who has the ability and the sound judgement should be able to serve their country, I think even if a person has a mental disorder, the military could provide them with the medication needed, if they are on medication then they can provide said medication, not dismiss them or not allow them to join. as in my case, I was diagnosed with Aspergers syndrome at the age of 16,I want to join the military and I know that my disorder would not interfere with me being able to do my duty. there are others in the military with the same disorder and yet they try to tell me I can’t join the army national guard, Its Bogus

August 6, 2010 at 1:52 am
(33) Ashley says:

Sometimes if you were wrongly diagnosed they will allow you in. That is what happened to me, I was told that I was bipolar for years. I found out 3 years ago that I was never bipolar but didn’t have enough hormones to regulate me. Went on the pill and bingo, stability. Military is taking me, I go to basic in 3 months.

December 23, 2010 at 10:55 pm
(34) Laney says:

look idk what this is all about but i am bipolar i spent six months in a facility because of my illness but i wouldve only been there for five months if it wasnt for my credits in high school not being able to transfer. but the point is i wanna be in the military since sept. 11, 2001. i told my mom i was gonna do it. people have always said no you cant do it with being bipolar. but why not?? just because one person messes up does that mean we are all the same?? NO we are all our own persons. you look around and how many people are racist over other races not all the people of that race are like that kinda like bipolar patients we all have the same diagnosis some worse than others but we arent all the same the same as teachers in the schools they dont like kids siblings and cousins because ones before them mess up and give the family a bad rep. so why do we get treated different. i’m sorry if i’m offending anyone but i had a lot to say bout that and i will fight for my right to serve in the military.

April 1, 2011 at 9:36 am
(35) Bob says:

Man Im in the Army and Bipolar Its not that great knock ourself out……………….

June 29, 2011 at 11:02 pm
(36) Nick says:

Hello all have you ever stopped to think of the kid who grows up from second grade during diagnosis, tells the truth on the DMV papers and checks yes that he’s bipolar and there for has to be set through a separate screening? No. Honestly I feel that any person should be allowed to join up. It is up to the leadership to understand his or her fellows and to recognize faults that could endanger safety of others…. Just like for non bipolars. I have always been on the good end of control of my disorder and do feel that with meds it cAn be controlled I have yet to find something to set me off and trust me high school can really freaking suck so I guess what I’m saying is that given people should be screened and given the chance to serve the country the love. In my mind yes this is descrimination just as much as not allowing the gays or African Americans of the thirtys to join.
Diagnosed at age 5 and currently age 18

September 9, 2011 at 9:51 am
(37) Christopher W. Clem says:

I’m very very strongly for letting ANYONE enlist in the US Armed Forces without any examination to reduce unemployment and homelessness!!! There are abolutely no disabled people and the US civil righths laws MUST apply to all employers!!! There is noi such thing as mental illness or disability and the US Armed Forces is for everyone to enlist in. Also I will believe in this forever until I die!!!

October 3, 2011 at 8:41 am
(38) Haley says:

I find it completely stupid that Bipolar is disqualifying. For one, some people can get over Bipolar disorder and manage it after a lot of hard work. Many Military soldiers come back with PSTD and are yet still called back out to Iraq. And for one the guy could of had psychosis or schizophrenia. It’s not fair to keep us out for something we can’t control that happened to our brain. We can control Bipolar, the history will keep us out, and with proper medication taking we are harmless also. Pretty sure it doesn’t kill to keep a few depressants and mood stabilizers around. And even off of them all we have are swings that only cause us to be really happy or kind of iffy. But we can control it when we realize what’s happening. All I want is to be an MP, can’t even do that.

November 25, 2011 at 2:39 pm
(39) anguela says:

I am 13 right now, and will be turning 14 in march. When I turn 17 I am thinking of applying for the marines. BUT.. I have bipolar and a.d.h.d. I understand that my bipolar will effect my chances, but will my a.d.h.d? I also have very terrible anger issues.. so I can see that I maybe might not have good chances of getting in. But still I wanna know my chances. Can anyone tell me?

December 7, 2011 at 12:28 pm
(40) Jophi says:

Here is a reality check for all of you arguing that people with bipolar disorder should be allowed in the military with the proper meds. When you’re deployed, there is a chance that you will not receive your supply of medication or you may even lose it and will have to wait for another shipment to come in. Without it, no matter how well you handle your manic and depressive episodes on your own, your superiors will not want to deal with the possibility that one of your episodes will interfere with the mission and affect the safety of you and your comrades. That is why there are so many disqualifications from joining the military. When they have the pick of the litter, they are going to pick someone without a history of mental illness over someone who does.

The military has also been downsizing significantly over the past couple of years, and yes, they have been discharging some servicemembers with PTSD. Practically any minor medical condition now is an instant disqualifier, including food allergies. I was disqualified from ROTC a few years ago because I have hypothyroidism, a minor thyroid condition that requires medication. Once again, because of the possibility of my “health declining due to an insufficient supply of medication in the field,” the military decided not to let me in when they could take other perfectly healthy individuals lining up behind me. No, it’s not fair, but it’s reality.

December 13, 2011 at 5:52 pm
(41) Shipmate says:

I am proudly in the United States Navy, as far as people complaining about getting the “mentally ill” (declared by your standards of course) out of all branches of service is the most ignorant thing I have ever heard. If we took the time to mentally evaluate ever service member we would see from Big navy all the way down to the crank mess, everyone has issues. Some are just worse than others, and by all means we should find help for those who seek it. But to force someone out of a program that is their lifestyle at the same time is just crazy.

Wake up people, you gotta be a little fucked up in the head to join anyways. Even more so to fall in love with it. Just handle it appropriately is all I’m saying. Because I bet you would see what i do and say “Good job shipmate” without even knowing i had a disorder. And I love the Navy, and like I said before…

I am your shipmate and i have been diagnosed with bipolar 1. And i would get shot or drown for my country. Does that mean because I am bipolar my sacrifice won’t count? Then you show me how its supposed to look. You wear my uniform and walk my deckplates. But you can’t or whatever reason you tell yourself. That’s why you need me. And i do it damn well with a smile.

December 19, 2011 at 8:28 pm
(42) MrJoe says:

Haley–Very good point! I would love to get back in the USAF, but I had a severe manic episode in basic and was discharged–but not diagnosed. The dx came later from a civilian psychiatrist. I’m doing great with lithium–30 years now. If meds work this well, they should be available in the military for those who prove that they are stable with them. Otherwise, many good and talented people are left unable to serve.

January 13, 2012 at 6:01 am
(43) Anonymous says:

In spite of the lil known fact that mental diseases dont exist…the military is right in not including people who go see psychiatrists and take those drugs. Read the side effects of the pills, then factor in the fact that in the military your guaranteed 8 hours(or any sleep depending on job, rate, commission, program and so on). You have to always be ready to fight for your country(and many of those pills passify you in times of war which FDA doesnt seem to pick up on or include). To include those people those people taking drugs like that is just too hazardous,

but if theyre really set on wanting to join stay away from the drugs for 2 years…youll recover and be just fine for the most part. Youll even find that your mind is just fine…or be processed out harmlessly due to FBI Background check..but at least youll be fine.

February 1, 2012 at 1:24 pm
(44) shannon says:

im bipolar and i want to join the marines or the army. basically i just wanna be part of the militarty but i feel as if being bipolar is going to hold me back. should i say something? i dont know, i dont think so. im scared because i dont want them to deney me. i know i can be fine at least i have to believe so. im not sure what to do, im very conflicted. i just wanted to be accecpted for once. why does bipolar have to not only ruin yourself but your life too?

March 8, 2012 at 11:19 am
(45) ArmyGuy85 says:

I’ve been in the Active Army for 6 yrs now. I’ve deployed once but was sent home due to an extreme episode brought on by my BP2 which was diagnosed after my return. Am I directly dangerous to those around me? No, not hardly. So don’t think that a MI means someone is on the verge of losing their damn mind. It’s more indirect. I was always tired due to not sleeping, irritable and intolerant. Being tired when you’re suppused to be alert is BAD. Then I finally had a panic attack, 7 days later I was back in the states. I am now being medically discharged with permanent retirement benefits. Should I be allowed to continue my service? No, its not healthy for me. We’re not all basket cases ready to kill everyone around us. So if that’s how you think, get it out of your head.

March 30, 2012 at 2:37 am
(46) Navy guy with Bipolar says:

“The science literature suggests very strongly that the moment a proper treatment programme is put in place the risk of future illness diminishes in its frequency and even when an illness develops in terms of illness intensity. So I agree with Dr O’Dea’s view that in many ways bipolar 2 disorder presents an initial challenge for treatment, that is making the diagnosis and urging the person to start treatment, but once treatment is initiated and once there is compliance generally people with a bipolar disorder do very well, and much better than the treatment of people with various other psychiatric disorders.”
◦ Olav Nielssen

I live with and manage the mental illness bipolar disorder. Numerous reports from my treating psychiatrist state that my condition is stable, I am fully deployable and will be taken off all medication in due course . I cooperate with treatment and have been working effectively—completing recruit school training successfully and contributing significantly to my work place for the last 3 years. My performances have contributed towards the good reputation that Navy enjoys with the public. My performance report states that I have “achieved greatness” in my primary area of employment. Despite this Navy is currently in the final stages of sacking me because I have been diagnosed with bipolar disorder.

May 6, 2012 at 3:51 pm
(47) SATAN says:

Stop being a bunch of Pussies, America!!!!! Let them join dont let them give in and find that if they gain others sympathy they can get the easy way out. Rethink yourselves you bunch of Hypocrites!

June 5, 2012 at 2:32 pm
(48) Joey says:

I have bipolar, add, OCD, and PTSD.
I was treated like shit my by chain of command. I deployed to Iraq. After a few I.E.D.S I lost my head. The deployment was 15 mo by the last 4 mo, I had a melt down.. My squad leader found my suicide note. I was soon later taken off the line and was forced to go to see a counselor. The last few months of Iraq were like this.
Cpt. Stone helped me out a lot.
I don’t know what happened when I got back to the states.

I snapped I was hostpilized 14 times
I received a honorable discharge and that was that

July 5, 2012 at 11:14 pm
(49) malachi says:

I think there are some forms of mental illness that would render a person fit, even desirable, for military service, while there are other forms which would render a person undesirable. Some of the mood disorders, like bipolar affective disorder might not be desirable, while some of the personality disorders, such as narcissistic personality disorder, to name just one, might actually be desirable, especially for those in positions of command.

July 9, 2012 at 1:32 am
(50) Gogh says:

The spectrum of mental illness is way too broad to narrowly say that no person with said illness can serve in the military. It’s also too widespread. If you walk into a room of people most likely only 2 out of 5 do not have some sort of textbook mental illness and a lot of the time if they don’t “have” one it’s because they haven’t been diagnosed. Mental illness can go overlooked or can be over-exaggerated. Regardless of the guidelines set in place by the Dept. of Defense there are people with a known mental illness serving. The author of this article is naive and shouldn’t be writing about something they have no real introspect on.

July 29, 2012 at 7:35 pm
(51) A Chance says:

Im sorry to say, but the shootings at Fort Hood happened because of religious radicalism. NOT because of mental illness.

I also want to say, a prior diagnosis shouldn’t be an absolute ruling out factor. Without a doubt, I believe you shouldn’t be denied up front to not join military. You should be given a chance. A chance to take the ASVAB, to do all those pushups, situps, chinups, what have you

A chance to brush through bootcamp. I have been diagnosed with Bi-Polar, does that mean the guy next me is more capable because he has say, no formal diagnoses? WRONG. Maybe this man has capability of developing more thick skin then the noodle boy next to him that has no record of prior diagnoses

I say , atleast give them the chance to FAIL at Bootcamp, see what they are made of. See what their capable of, their demeanor, if at that point in time by the recruiters or drill sergeants and instructors, if he is capable first.

Give them a chance. Like Satan said up there, the mentally ill have a sympathetic safety net, that blankets them with advice that does not work, and drugs that just makes things worse, if anything, don’t let more of society fail, let some of us that think we are worthy, out of the group, that think, im not disabled, there is nothing wrong with me, I can attitude instead of I Can’t, give us a chance.

July 29, 2012 at 7:54 pm
(52) Simon Hale says:

Oh and again, the shootings at Ford Hood DID NOT HAPPEN BECAUSE OF MENTAL ILLNESS, but because of RELIGIOUS VIEWS. The Guys name: Nidal Malik Hasan

August 5, 2012 at 5:52 pm
(53) Bea K. says:

Would they knowingly recognize or recruit someone who is mentally challenged, as I know an acquaintance who is trying to get in, but we’re hoping she won’t make it.

She has an ‘IEP Diploma’, but they said she could (and should) apply any way. She just barely passed h.s. and is attempting college, but we think this would be a disaster for her in the long run.

August 16, 2012 at 2:36 am
(54) dual diagnosis says:

Many people to be scared of that they might be committed to allow them to treatment
or an asylum because unquestionably the disorder cannot make controlled.

Masses of dual diagnosis medication units identify this one interrelation between natural and organic dependencies and mental disorders.

August 17, 2012 at 1:00 am
(55) jBob says:

Recruiters get paid to recruit… think they really give a fuck? They been dealt a shit hand with being a recruiter(1 of worst military occupations) Not saying I disagree with this should be looked into but American govn is corrupt so likelyhood of this happening? Not

September 21, 2012 at 11:04 pm
(56) Robert says:

So us men with bipolar disorder can’t get into the military but we still have to file for selective service? Why waste the time and effort if we can’t get in? It’s been a dream to be a Marine. Now, thanks to the government, a U.S citizen like myself can’t achieve his dream. Thank you government for ruining my future.

October 25, 2012 at 1:20 am
(57) Anna says:

My opinion is that anyone who has been treated for they mental illness and been stable for a long time ( for a year or more) . Should sever for they country

November 28, 2012 at 8:31 am
(58) troy says:

If you have a illness like deperssion you shouldnt be going to war. (With respect) think about it ?there are healty people who only had a family history end up ill so you actually worsen you’re status and second. best way to do it is cancel you’re health treatment and seal those medical forms.but I say this if you do that then youre considered avrage.

November 28, 2012 at 8:52 am
(59) troy says:

In fairness if you have a mental illness don’t join cause there are people who can handle that with the illness and those who can’t its not a therapist it not a center it brave women and men who fight for our freedom we enjoy so much. People die you see things you will prob won’t see anywhere else if you can’t handle that then don’t go. Cause I respect those who serve my uncle had depression join in 94. Served all these years and live normal so it on the person weather they can deal with it or not

November 29, 2012 at 12:19 am
(60) pen name says:

i have a mental illness and depression….im probably bipolar…to be honest…my senior year in highschool i joined the Marine Corps…graduated bootcamp…graduated mct….graduated comm school and was in Field Radio…the Fleet was rough for about the first year…however i deployed to Iraq within 4 months…so i grew up fast as a boot…got back and chopped to a MEU i waS promoted to E4 /CPL rather quick…including day one of boot to the fleet about a YR and 4 months…however at the time my Field picked up fast….my 4yrs of service was a battle but i hid it very very well….you just have to think how far you came along….and stay positive i learned to like it! i got out honerably….the funny thing is i fell back into my severe depression after the Marine Corps!? the strange thing was Marines bitched about the field and deployments….however i am a single male so Marine training and life was great compared to the real world….why i didnt stay in well i cant answer that cuz…maybe thats part of my mental illness…i regret getting out now!

December 2, 2012 at 1:23 am
(61) navy says:

Well, I was diagnosed with PTSD, phycosis , major depression, ADD, DDafter severe abuse from visits from my father when I was 4 yrs old I was on medications from 4-10 Then my mom forced me 2 go back on them (my father came back in my life & she was afraid of relapse) when I think I grew out of my diagnosis.Don’t tell me I can’t handle things I woke up found my mom dead a heart attack @17 I called 911 part of me knew she was gone I guessed 4am & I was right . Me & her were close Best friends even closer she was my life I was able 2 grieve a week.. Then took care of my 26 year old sister & her kids.Started working arbys 5 months went 2 school 2 get a GED then started @ Dominos,2 weeks later was promoted 2manager 4 months later I owned my own store @ 19 During that my only grandpa died I was sad but not depressed I grew stronger as I lost people in my life.it gave me a passion 2 make them proud of me. I did things my mom never thought I can do if she did I would be in a different position in life right now.Not living with the bio dad that gave me the trama that’s made my life harder 2 achieve anything.. I went 2 college for 1 semester and I have a 4.0.But I don’t want to do this.. I want to serve my country I want to be the first women in the military in my whole family. I am not telling meps because 1 have not taken any medications since I was 16 3yrs ago and I have been fine.2 they will take one look, and disqualify me instantly because of my diagnosis made when I was 4. I would tell them if they would give me a chance, even to get a mental evaluation. It is not fair that I have to lie about my past diagnosis.. In reality I should have seen a therapist when I was 4 not drugged up. I was diagnosed because I didn’t know how to explain my feelings so instead of having someone help me through it I got pills. I am excited for boot camp.If you do not a agree Tell me why

January 15, 2013 at 12:37 pm
(62) james wilson says:

i lost my father at 12 y/o, and my grandfather in the same year… i was diagnosed with major depression, but who wouldn’t have been depressed….im wondering since i havent been depressed in a long time and i mean long time if they would hold that against me if i tried joining the army now? It makes no sense to disqualify me i acted like a normal kid and yes was very depressed but seriously if i wasn’t depressed after that i would have been even more worried…

March 17, 2013 at 5:03 pm
(63) Josh says:

I know of a guy who joined the US Army late last year.He is Bipolar,ADHD and has a narcisscist personalty disorder.All these caused him to be counceled from a young age,thrown out of school and fired from 4 jobs he has had.Now he is in the US Army.4 months.
I cannot believe it.

April 28, 2013 at 11:21 am
(64) cathy says:

Well, what I don’t understand is I know someone that has been in a mental hospital not once,or twice, but several times and had been being treated for several mental diag. But they are sure in the Air Force!!! Don’t the government check anything anymore or is that where we send the mentally ill now???? This makes me sick sick sick!!!!

May 14, 2013 at 1:01 pm
(65) Israel305 says:
May 27, 2013 at 11:17 pm
(66) every other person says:

Its too bad. I want to join up or at least have a shot at boot camp even at the age of 40. I’ve fought hard to get where I am and I am more stable than just about everyone around me (who isn’t diagnosed). I know for a fact that there are people in the services that are prescribed the same meds I’m currently on. In a pinch I can do without them for good stretches. Sometimes I’ve had to and still I was capable of performing well. Some day I hope people that are high functioning with disorders will be accepted, understood, and not stigmatized.

August 5, 2013 at 1:15 am
(67) justan says:

I personally think someone with a mental illness should be able to fight for their country’s freedom as long as they’re able to be on their meds just because someone has a mental illness does not mean they are not “normal” and can’t be a good soldier I’m someone that was misdiagnosed with bipolar but I have since been told I’m only ADD I’m slow learner I am a full time firefighter and plan on joining the army.

October 15, 2013 at 6:38 pm
(68) Robert says:

I am bipolar, addhd, and they say a bit scissor. For the longest time I wanted to join the military. I am lucky at times that I am not in it. My family have all gone and done there time. I on the other hand will help in another way. More and more I think a out it, yes it is a darn shame, but at the same time, I dwell on the possible ramifications of what might do if I slipped out. The unknown is just too much for me to comprehend and I thank god those rules are there. Why in the world would anyone like me dare to lie and risk others or themselves over stress? When people with bipolar have a episode, they are in automatic fight or flight mode. If someone attempts to say what is wrong or tries to help, they are in trouble, or other times, the person takes off like a super fast runner away from the issue that created the problem. The military cannot have that. So ya, say out of the military and help them in another way. Least you will still feel good about yourself.

January 4, 2014 at 1:00 am
(69) Cathy Wilmington says:

When my son was in high school, he went to counseling for depression for a short time. Then, his father and I separated when he went to college, he had a hard time coping with it, but he got over it and finished college. Some years later, he tried to join the Navy and he was rejected. He has asthma, but I always wondered if it was because the military found out about the counseling in his past. Did that have anything to do with his rejection? He went through some training exercises before they decided and then a doctor at Walter Reed rejected him. Was the prior counseling a factor? I do not know the diagnosis. It was not bipolar–just depression is all I know.

March 17, 2014 at 2:26 pm
(70) Arko Roy says:

hi all . My name is Arko Roy frm india ;24 yrs old. Hold a Southafrican commercial Pilot licence.On 2011 i was diagonosed with Bipolar Disorder type 1 as i met wit a disastorous incident in africa. Howevr i still hav mood swing .Undergo medication n work day n night so dat i cn again fulfill my dream to fly a jet again. I found dat medicine is the key to cure. N if u hav hope . Fate would give another chance. thx Roy

March 23, 2014 at 8:27 pm
(71) ServingOnAD says:

The author’s answer four years ago is only partly correct. With regard to initial entry, she is right, generally the worst of the behavioral conditions do disqualify an entrant. However, AR 40-501 is more specific for those who are already in service: it prevents those on certain medications from deploying to austere environments (non-deployable), but it does not preclude them from continuing service. That is judgment left up to a medical board and the chain of command and is a whole other page of explaining. My point: once you’re made it through basic and initial entry training, a mental illness is not necessarily a ticket home. How do I know? 14 years of service: 11 of them as a diagnosed & treated bipolar. The key is proving to medical authorities and chains of command that the illness does not interfere with your job. Yet sadly nowadays with a fast shrinking military, and incidents such as the Ft Hood and Naval Yard shootings, those who have documented mental illness are increasingly on the budget chopping block, especially since today’s military is highly expeditionary. Gone are the days of militias for just homeland defense. Keep your head up, I am proof that serious mental illness does not need to spell the end of a military career.

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