The U.S. Army has found itself in a tight spot when it comes to recruiting. They need to lure in some 80,000 new soldiers, but are finding it tough to fill all those vacant spots. Uncle Sam is still saying "I Want You," but he’s having a hard time finding enough folks to take him up on the offer.
Well, let’s put a qualifier on that last sentence.
He’s having a hard time getting enough qualified folks willing to join the ranks. Why? Some observers point to the fact that a strong economy is pulling the more qualified potential recruits into the private sector. Selling a stint or two in Afghanistan to someone who has numerous other — possibly more lucrative — options at home is proving an uphill battle.
To that point, Maj. Gen. Jeffrey Snow, who oversees Army recruitment, recently told USA Today, “(we’re) in an environment where unemployment is 4.5 percent. We’ve got our work cut out for us.”
So, what to do?
In order to meet its quota, the Army has decided to relax some of its criteria for joining up (including military exam performance), they’re offering more sign-on bonuses, and — here’s a big one — they’re forgiving past marijuana use, which used to be an automatic disqualifier.
Now Uncle Sam is saying "I Want You" (yes, even if you’ve smoked pot in the past).
As reported by USA Today, the new stance reflects the fact that more states are legalizing marijuana for medical and/or recreational use. But there is one catch: even if the Army is accepting those who’ve consumed cannabis in the past, those fresh recruits must swear off future use.
Here’s Maj. Gen. Snow again: “The big thing we’re looking for is a pattern of misconduct where they’re going to have a problem with authority. Smoking marijuana in an isolated incident as a teenager is not a pattern of misconduct.”
It certainly is not.
The U.S. military still strikes a troublesome stance on marijuana, especially when it comes to veteran PTSD treatment options, but at least this is a step in the right direction.