The dream of a recruiter is a morally and medically qualified person walking into the recruiting station with their birth certificate, high school diploma, Social Security card, and their ASVAB report saying they have a 50 or above QT. I get a warm and fuzzy feeling in places better left unsaid just thinking about such a thing happening. Recruiting has replaced my night time fantasies about Kathy Ireland with fantasies about that kid walking in.

The fact is that doesn’t happen. Many people who would be interested in the service are barred from joining for any number of reasons related to medical, law, or education issues. Not much can be done about the education. If you can’t pass the ASVAB, or if you haven’t earned a GED there isn’t much that can be done to help you. However, those not in the know would be suprised by what will disqualify someone from joining the Army.

AR 601-210 is the bible for Army recruiting. According to our bible the following individuals are ineligible to enlist.

A 24 year old who, prior to turning 20, had received three speeding tickets for $252, $301, and $290, being fined $300 for driving without proof of insurance, a $250 fine for driving without a license, and a $310 fine for having an exhaust that was too loud. All fines were paid and he has nothing outstanding.

A 22 year old who was arrested for possession of marijuana when she was 16. Hasn’t used the stuff since.

A 28 year old who had been arrested by the cops one night when he was caught egging someone’s house, and then while in college he was arrested for streaking the campus common during Pledge Week.

I think it would be a stretch to consider these people to be unqualified for military service, but according to the regulation they are. Luckily for our speed demon, reformed pot head, and egg-tossing nudist the Army allows waivers to such disqualifications. It is those waivers that this article in Salon bemoans as a way to lower enlistment standards.

I think there are two types of people with two very different agendas who would question the use of waivers. One type is someone with a genuine concern for the quality of the Army Forces. Allowing people with a history of anti-social behavior, major, serious, recurrent troubles with the law is someone who likely be unable to adjust to the rigors of military life, wasting tax payers dollars, and putting the lives of other servicemembers at risk. The other type of person is someone who views the military with distain, but lacks the courage to come right out, and put in writing how they feel about it. Instead they claim that the use of waivers shows the military is hurting for enlistees, and is thus lowering its standards and accepting poorer quality people. Usually this arguement is followed by one about the folly of Iraq, and how it’s proof that Bush lied. Bonus points if “no WMDs” is thrown in.

I’m not going to make a claim about the motivation of Mark Benjamin from Salon, however knowing what little I do about Salon’s stance on the Bush, Iraq, and the military gives me some idea.

Apparently last year 21,880 Soldiers joined with a waiver. That number covers all waivers, moral, medical, and administrative for all components of the Army. Of that 21,880 11, 018 joined with a moral waiver. The vast majority of those moral waivers were for law violations of a misdemeanor or below. Serious offenses (aggravated assault, cocaine possession, robbery, etc) accounted for less than 6% of moral waivers granted, and 3% of all waivers granted. Even though the 680 serious offense waivers granted was an increase over 2004, it’s still a minor portion of all people enlisting. For my involvement in this, I enlisted one person last year with a serious offense waiver. He’d been involved in a robbery when he was a juvenile. He enlisted when he was 28 years old. His offense was over 10 years old when he enlisted, and it still required a waiver. I’m confident that an analysis of those serious offense will show a large number of people who committed crimes a long time prior to their enlistment.

Mr. Benjamin devotes a lot of column space to the waiver policy lowering the Army’s standards, when in reality serious offenses represented less than 1% of the total enlistees for 2005.

The anecdotal evidence that Benjamin provides isn’t really applicable to the Army. Even though his story is about the Army, he uses events from the Air Guard to support his story. I don’t know the Air Guard’s policies and procedures, but I’ll treat all the anecdotes as having happened in the Army, and I’ll explain how they were allowed to join.

“After his parents filed a domestic-abuse complaint against him in 2000, a recruit in Rhode Island was sentenced to one year of probation, ordered to have ‘no contact’ with his parents, and required to undergo counseling and to pay court costs. Air National Guard rules say domestic violence convictions make recruits ineligible — no exceptions granted. But the records show that the recruiter in this case brought the issue to an Air Guard staff judge advocate, who reviewed the file and determined that the offense did not ‘meet the domestic violence crime criteria.’ As a result of this waiver, the recruit was admitted to his state’s Air Guard on May 3, 2005.”

The Army’s definition of domestic abuse is the Lautenburg law. Per 601-210 domestic abuse occurs when the person committing the assault is the current or former spouse, parent, or guardian of the victim; a person who shard a child with the victim; cohabitating or had cohabitated with the victim as a spouse, parent, or guardian; person who could be viewed as the spouse, parent, or guardian of the victim. No where in there are the parents of the offender included as someone who Lautenburg applies to. Since it’s not considered domestic abuse by the Army, it would fall under assault or what ever other applicable policy, and the appropriate waiver would be processed and granted if found worthy.

“A recruit with DWI violations in June 2001 and April 2002 received a waiver to enter the Iowa Air National Guard on July 15, 2005. The waiver request from the Iowa Guard to the Pentagon declares that the recruit ‘realizes that he made the wrong decision to drink and drive.'”

DUI is a dangerous crime, one that can have horrific consquences for innocent people. But, isn’t it possible that after two DUI arrests in a year someone will take that moment to see the error of their ways and reform? Stop drinking, getting smarter about their drinking, learning to call a cab? Espicially with more than three years between the last offense? Someone with a DUI won’t be receiving a job with a security clearance any time soon, but that doesn’t mean someone who’s seen the light should be denied a chance to serve.

“Another recruit for the Rhode Island Air National Guard finished five years of probation in 2002 for breaking and entering, apparently into his girlfriend’s house. A waiver got him into the Guard in June 2005.”

This really is the silliest one. Follow the time line here… five years probation ended in 2002, which means he committed the B&E in 1997. Nearly 8 years later he’s allowed to enlist in the ANG with a waiver. I wonder if Salon refuses to hire people as writers who had a B&E 8 years ago?

A recruit convicted in January 2004 for possession of marijuana, drug paraphernalia and stolen license-plate tags got into the Hawaii Air National Guard with a waiver little more than a year later, on March 3, 2005.

Possessing and using marijuana is against the law. My opinion of whether it should be will remain my opinion, but the reg states that a waiver is authorized after a 1 year wait. The year was up, waiver was submitted and approved. Is Salon advocating that people charged with possession of marijuana should forever be barred from government service?

It is a recruiter’s dream to have fully qualified people. Back in the good ol’ days when the military was drawing down all the services could afford to be picky. There is a war on. Without the ability to request waivers for law violations the Army would have had 11,000 fewer Soldiers in boots. Apparently 680 people admitted to the Army with a serious offense waiver represent a “military (that) is lowering its standards to fight the war in Iraq”. 680 people, in an Army over 500,000, represent a lowering of the standards. I have my doubts about the dire straights those 680 represent.

Comments closed.