1,709 Discharged From Military for Mental Illness
luvsmiling, Jan. 28, 2015, 9:24 a.m.
Some 1,709 active-duty soldiers were reclassified and discharged from the Army last year due to mental illness. A system of screening conscripts to find out whether they are fit for active duty was introduced in 2010. In the first year, 580 soldiers were reclassified and discharged on grounds of mental illness. Their number has nearly tripled in five years.
The Cheong Wa Dae bomb hoax suspect was one of them. The young man, identified by his surname Kang, was diagnosed with mental disorders including anxiety and depression in April 2013, six months before he enlisted. But he was not considered ill enough to be exempted from military service.
"At the time, young men were exempted from conscription only if they received treatment for mental disorders for at least a year," a military spokesman said. "And they were removed from active duty only if it emerged that they had serious trouble adapting to barracks life."
The Military Manpower Administration claims the psychiatrists who make the recommendations have more than 10 years of practice and perform "careful checkups." To prevent trouble caused by soldiers with mental illness, the military revised the rules on health checkups on Jan. 21, shortening the requisite minimum period of prior treatment from a year to six months.
But that is the bottom line. The military claims it cannot ease regulations further because young men could take advantage of the rules and feign mental illness to dodge the draft.