U.S. Army Adopts Background Checks to Strengthen Safety for New Recruits

By Michael Klazema on 11/29/2018

Despite the image US Army drill instructors possess in popular media, the criteria for selection as a DI is rigorously focused on selecting individuals who will not expose recruits to danger. While the Army has always imposed screening requirements on soldiers who applied for positions of authority, new policies by armed forces leadership will now cast a wider net. The goal, according to the Army's directives, is to protect vulnerable recruits, foster cohesion, and reduce the potential for abuse.

Drill sergeants aren't the only target of the new policies. The Army's enhanced screening procedures will include those in Officer Candidate School and ROTC. Advocates and other members in the Army's anti-sexual assault task force will undergo the same scrutiny. The key change is the implementation of a multi-stage background check with many potentially disqualifying factors. 

Unlike a typical employment background check, which consults criminal records from relevant locales, the Army's focuses on internally-generated reports. Initial steps include searching for any records of a soldier's past treatment for drug abuse and incidents in which the individual came to the attention of the military police. Later on in the process, the Army will also scan sexual offender databases and pursue credit reports on the individuals under scrutiny, resources similar to the ones businesses can rely on when using to generate reports.

The stated aim of the process is to ensure leadership programs only select soldiers with clean service and disciplinary records. After reviewing relevant documentation, the Army will now disqualify applicants based on three tiers of severity. Some offenses, such as registration as a sex offender and domestic abuse, automatically bar the soldier for working with vulnerable recruits. Others, such as a felony conviction from a civilian court, are only disqualifying if the offense occurred during the soldier's period of service. 

Other minor offenses can be disqualifying but are ruled out if they occurred more than five years before the soldier's application. Every three years, the Army will re-screen those who pass these initial checks. This new policy mirrors similar movement in the private sector towards revolving background checks.

In the age of #MeToo, the Army is not alone in its efforts to seek ways to foster safer spaces conducive to teamwork and success. Private organizations from volunteer nonprofits to church groups and others can all benefit from implementing similarly thorough background check policies. makes tackling that task straightforward with instant in-depth criminal history reports. Ultimately, these tools provide a useful firewall for screening applicants to strengthen confidence in hiring choices while reducing potential threats to those your organization serves. 

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