Horrible Crime Sparks Renewed Concern Over Enlistment Screening
> 7/14/2006 10:40:19 AM

Evidence continues to come to light about the brutal rape and murder of a young Iraqi woman and the murder of her family. At CBS's website you can watch Armen Keteyian's most recent report, which details how the ringleader of this heinous crime was discharged for a what was at first called a "personality disorder" but later reclassified with the clinical term antisocial personality disorder.

Earlier this week, the New York Times picked up this story as part of this Sunday's Week in Review section. In "When Personality Disorder Wears Camouflage," writer Benedict Carey discusses how many were surprised to find that someone with such a disorder could make it all the way into combat.

Which raises a question: How does someone with a personality disorder a significant, disabling, and dangerous condition manage the stress of combat? Wouldn't a person with a serious mental problem drop out, or be identified and quickly discharged?

The answer, usually, is yes. People with paranoid, borderline or compulsive personality disorders, for instance, are hobbled by anxieties and delusional fears, experts say: two months of boot camp would typically be overwhelming for them. The low frequency of psychiatric breakdowns in Iraq about 8 in 1,000 service members have been evacuated for psychiatric problems, fewer than in previous wars suggests that few people with significant mental illness make it far in the service.

Yet the military does not perform full personality assessments on recruits unless there is some pressing reason to do so. Most anyone who has graduated from high school and avoided serious trouble with the law is qualified to enlist. And the psychological pressure recruits face during basic training is less intense than it once was, military experts say; the "shark attack" of screaming officers that used to greet fresh recruits has been tamed at some bases.

The fact of the matter is that with recruiters needing to meet quotas, there are often people slipping into service that may not be suited to be there. According to CBS News recruitment waivers for all sorts of potential disqualifiers have risen by 70% since 2001. The real tragedy of this on going story is that the only time we hear about these concerns is when someone, who shouldn't even be in the situation in which they find themselves, does something awful as is the case here with Steven Green.

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