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article imageQuality Of American Troops Drops As Army Increases Number of Recruited Felons

By Nikki Weingartner     Apr 8, 2008 in World
The number of United States Army recruits who require a waiver for criminal activity, including felony and serious misdemeanor crimes, has doubled over the past four years. This means 11% of new Army recruits have a criminal record.
Making up the bolus of American troops in Iraq and Afghanistan, the United States Army is the powerhouse as far as ground forces for the country. In its recruitment ad, boasting to Go Army, it states
“The U.S. Army, a key component of the U.S. Armed Forces, is made up of the best-trained, most dedicated, most respected Soldiers in the world — protecting America’s freedoms at home and abroad, securing our homeland, and defending democracy worldwide.”
But in several reports, one on a military website and one in a popular newspaper, the Army has doubled the number of waivers it hands out to recruits since 2004. That means that one in every eight new soldiers who come into the Army have a criminal history, possibly a felony or serious misdemeanor.
A waiver is a document that allows an individual to enter into a particular branch of service, deeming certain prerequisites such as criminal history as “waived”. According to the news article, a recruit needs a waiver for:
One felony charge
Serious misdemeanor
More than three minor misdemeanors
Single charge of marijuana possession
Single charge of DUI
Minor infractions: disorderly conduct, trespassing, vandalism
Waivers are not issued to individuals for sex crimes or drug and alcohol addictions.
According to the newspaper report, only 4.6 percent of new recruits were issued waivers in 2004. During the last fiscal year, October 2006-September 2007, that number jumped up to 11 percent. Already this fiscal year, it is 13 percent.
Also reported was the issuance of waivers for non-high school graduates, which was up since 2001. Recruits who graduated high school in 2001 were at 91 percent, but dropped to 79 percent this past year.
The other three branches of the United States Armed Forces haven’t seen the jump in waivers, with Marines remaining unchanged. The Air Force and Navy haven’t been under the same recruitment pressures as the Army.
In defense of the numbers, Bill Carr, a top military personnel member states
“Recruits who have come in with waivers generally perform better than peers who haven't needed special permission to join the Army”
Trying to recruit good men and women is a struggle for the army, and it is beginning to show in the waivers being issued for certain groups. Although, a second chance at life is probably what many of these young men and women need to succeed. Go Army.
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