The Department of Defense announced changes today to improve the enlistment screening process by standardizing enlistment criteria and generating uniform reporting of waiver types across all services.
This week DoD and the nation celebrated the 35th Anniversary of the All Volunteer Force (AVF). Since its inception, our volunteer military has upheld the traditions of strong and selfless service to the nation. Presently, more than 1.4 million men and women choose to serve on active duty, along with nearly 1.1 million members of the National Guard and Reserves.
“Waivers have long been a part of the enlistment process, allowing communities a greater voice in identifying young persons who, despite factors such as youthful misconduct, are judged trustworthy and capable, and found fully qualified for service in the armed forces,” said Bill Carr, deputy under secretary for military personnel policy.
The most noticeable change to the policy is in the area of conduct waivers. Previously, each service categorized offenses differently, making it impossible to provide reliable comparisons across services, over time.
“Under the new policy all conduct offenses will be classified into one of four different categories. The most severe offenses will be classified as “major misconduct,” while less severe offenses will be considered “misconduct,” “non-traffic,” or “traffic” offenses. Also new is a coding system allowing services to track the level of the misconduct and the specific offense in question,” said Carr.
Recent research suggests patterns of smaller offenses such as underage drinking and curfew violations are often more problematic over a career than a single major youthful offense such as burglary, which is the most common offense in the “major misconduct” category.
About one in five recruits receives exceptional admission to the military by means of a waiver. About one third are for medical waivers– most frequently for high body fat – and nearly two thirds involve youthful misconduct waivers.
The standardization of data will allow the department to better analyze the relationship between offenses or categories of offense on the one hand, and attrition or performance concerns on the other.
This new policy, will go into effect on Oct. 1, 2008, does not prohibit further changes in the management of the military’s screening for service in the armed forces, but it does represent another affirmative step in sustaining the pattern of success that has come to characterize AVF.
Today’s AVF is highly educated with nearly 95 percent of recruits holding a high school diploma, compared to about 75 percent of contemporary youth. Moreover, two thirds are drawn from the top half of American youth in math and verbal aptitude.