Outrage from Sen. John McCain after Army lifts ban on recruits with certain mental illness

Some Fort Bliss soldiers train in a simulated village on the Army base.

There's outrage from the chairman of the Senate Committee on Armed Services, Sen. John McCain, after the Army decided to let some people with a history of mental illness join the ranks.

The Army is now accepting recruits with a history of mental illnesses. USA today just released a report claiming the Army made the decision to meet recruitment goals.

The new report from USA Today shows the is Army lifting a ban on certain recruits, including people with a history of bipolar disorder, depression, drug and alcohol abuse, and even people who cut themselves.

“I think they shouldn’t lift this ban. I think the Army has the mentality of strength and you need to be a soldier,” said West El Paso resident Sunshine Castro. "I know this from personal experience, that some soldiers, if they've already had mental health issues going in, I think it will just make it worse for them."

Castro said she is in an organization called Run 22, which spreads awareness about veteran suicide.

"Twenty-two soldiers commit suicide a day,” Castro explained. “And those are perfectly mentally healthy people. And to put somebody who has already had some prior mental issues into the Army without an Army that supports them, is bad. I don't believe this should be in place."

El Pasoans we spoke with had mixed opinions on whether this change is positive.

"I think it's a good thing,” said West El Paso resident Sylvia Diaz. “Because I think everybody should have the opportunity to be there."

“There's two sides to every story in that situation,” said West El Paso resident Andy Truett. “But if they're going to go ahead and do that, I wouldn't stop it. But they're going to have to have some serious evaluations before they can continue."

USA Today reports McCain was furious about this, saying he would put a hold on nominations to Pentagon posts until the Army explained the policy.

USA Today said the ban has been in place since 2009, when it was instituted during a spike in soldier suicides.

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