By LOLITA C. BALDOR, Associated Press Writer
WASHINGTON – Faced with higher recruiting goals, theis quietly looking for ways to make it easier for people with minor criminal records to join the military, The Associated Press has learned.
The review, in its early stages, comes as the number of Army recruits needing waivers for bad behavior — such as trying drugs, stealing, carrying weapons on school grounds and fighting — rose from 15 percent in 2006 to 18 percent this year. And it reflects the services’ growing use of criminal, health and other waivers to build their ranks.
Overall, about three in every 10 recruits must get a waiver, according to Pentagon statistics obtained by AP, and about two-thirds of those approved in recent years have been for criminal behavior. Some recruits must get more than one waiver to cover things ranging from any criminal record, to health problems such as asthma or flat feet, to low aptitude scores — and even for some tattoos.
The goal of the review is to make cumbersome waiver requirements consistent across the services — the Army, Marine Corps, Navy and Air Force — and reduce the number of petty crimes that now trigger the process. Still, some Army officers worry that disciplinary problems will grow as more soldiers with records, past drug use and behavior problems are brought in.
Read the rest: