Mental Health Attrition from Air Force Basic Military Training

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The Department of Defense invests considerable money in recruiting and training new military recruits who are discharged for mental health reasons before completing their first enlistment, often within the first 6 months of active duty. The purpose of this study was to provide a description of 1,138Air Force recruits referred for a mental health evaluation while in basic military training. Variables examined include dispositions, demographic features, diagnoses, mental health history, and attitude and motivation characteristics. Findings show that trainees recommended for discharge often had a history of depression, expressed a lack of motivation to continue in the military, were reporting suicidal ideation, and typically had withheld information on their mental health history during their Military Entrance Processing Station processing. The results are discussed in terms of potential strategies for reducing mental health attrition in Air Force basic military training.

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