NASHVILLE – U.S. Rep. Jim Cooper has asked for a federal investigation into reports that Army recruiters encouraged applicants to lie so they could be accepted for military service.
Cooper, D-Nashville, a member of the Armed Services Committee, wrote to Rep. Vic Snyder, D-Ark., chairman of the personnel subcommittee of the House Armed Services Committee, in response to investigative reports this week on WTVF-TV in Nashville.
The stories documented Army recruiters at three locations in Middle Tennessee urging applicants to lie about their mental health so they could meet official military recruiting standards.
“As you know, our military is currently stretched to the breaking point, but evading recruitment standards and weakening the integrity of our combat forces is no way to solve the myriad problems we face,” Cooper wrote.
One recruiter told an undercover reporter for the station not to disclose his Zoloft prescription.
“Me and you are the only ones who know it … almost like ‘don’t ask, don’t tell.’ You don’t tell,” the recruiter advised the reporter.
Lt. Col. Patrick Brewington, who commands a local battalion, promised an investigation into recruiters who appeared in the reports.
“If prospective soldiers are being encouraged to lie about mental illness during intake, the problem is more widespread and fundamental than previously known,” Cooper wrote.
Incidentally, Tennessee National Guard recruitment numbers were up 57% last year.