PHOENIX, Ariz. – A policy implemented this year may help recruiters with the U.S. Army meet a challenge of 80,000 recruits by the fall of 2018.

The Army opened the door to some with a history of mental health illness.

Co-Director of Arizona State University's Center on the Future of War Daniel Rothenberg said the need for more soldiers isn’t new.

“The military faces challenges in recruiting enough skilled people … that isn’t anything new and what it’s a sign of, that is really something quite interesting within our society, is the significant civil-military divide,” Rothenberg said.

According to USA Today, people with a history of self-mutilation, bipolar disorder, depression and drug and alcohol abuse are now eligible for waivers to join this branch of the military.
The change -- implemented last summer -- comes at a time when the service needs to bring in 80,000 recruits through the end of September 2018.

An Army spokesperson told USA Today, opening the waivers to those with a history of mental health issues is possible thanks to increased access to medical information about prospective recruits, which allows officials to better track the medical histories of applicants.

Rothenberg said there are plenty of Americans who don’t need a waiver, but they’re just not signing up.

“A relatively small percentage of the American population serves in the U.S. military,” Rothenberg said.

As of Monday evening, 12 News is waiting for a response from the Army about the approval process for these waivers and the possible risks associated with putting recruits with a history of these illnesses in high-stress scenarios.