NewsChannel 5 took hidden cameras inside Army recruiting stations in Middle Tennessee to see how recruiters handled someone who revealed mental health issues. Watch video of the recruiting sessions. more>>
Jay Mallard killed himself last year during basic training at Fort Benning. His family says that, to get into the Army, he had been urged by a recruiter to lie about his continued use of antidepressants.more>>
A NewsChannel 5 investigation caught recruiters urging a young man to lie to get into the U.S. Army. As a result, top brass promised a full investigation of their Dishonorable Deceptions.
And the Army did discipline four recruiters.
But an insider warned us that investigators would not go any deeper. Now, our chief investigative reporter Phil Williams has obtained the Army's files -- and they show that the insider was right.
Our hidden cameras caught U.S. Army recruiters urging a prospective recruit to lie about his dependence on psychiatric medications.
And the Army's 214-page investigative file, obtained by NewsChannel 5 Investigates, confirms what we discovered.
While there was "no evidence that the recruiters involved would have continued processing," the investigating officer concludes, they showed "disregard for the foreseeable results that could occur from the prospect going to another recruiter ... with the knowledge to conceal relevant medical information."
"Channel 5 was right on all counts. The U.S. Army admits it," says U.S. Rep. Jim Cooper, D-Tennessee, a member of the House Armed Services Committee.
Cooper says the Army's recruiting investigation was good as far as it went. But, like all good soldiers, investigators followed orders and only looked where they told to look.
"They kept the scope very narrow," Cooper notes, after reviewing the reports obtained by NewsChannel 5. "They didn't want to look even one inch outside the frame."
In fact, after the Army first announced that the recruiters were being disciplined, an Army recruiting spokesman admitted the investigation had its limits.
"This investigation focused strictly on the allegations that were raised in your series," spokesman Lee Elder told Williams.
"Not whether they might have had a history of misconduct," Williams asked.
"No," Elder responded. "We treat each incident one at a time."
For example, one recruiter confides about another soldier who they knew had to sneak medications into boot camp.
Yet, despite her stunning admissions, the report says "the [investigating officer] was not able to question [her] regarding what firsthand information she has" about any misconduct in that case. The report blames her request for a lawyer, who was not available.
They only looked at exactly what they were told to look at. They didn't ask any other questions," the congressman observes.
And John Mallard suspects he knows why.
His son, Jay, killed himself during basic training after, the family says, another recruiter in that same office urged him to lie about his dependence on the antidepressant Zoloft.
"There's probably more than they want anybody to know about," Mallard tells Phil Williams. "There's probably a whole lot more than they want anybody to know about."
In the file, one of the men under investigation blames higher ups for putting almost unbearable pressure on recruiters -- even canceling days off when they did not meet their quotas.
In fact, this recruiter wrote: "The non-commissioned officer is belittled.... If you do not make your numbers..., your family is held hostage, as in not seeing them on the weekends 'til such numbers are made."
Cooper says, "As far as a nationwide cleanup, they weren't interested into that."
And the Army isn't alone.
Despite Cooper's calls for a nationwide investigation of the Army culture that leads to recruiting misconduct, when the top general over recruiting came before a House Armed Services subcommittee back in August, even committee members showed no interest in asking tough questions about the issues.
"They look at me and roll their eyes and say, 'Cooper, don't you know there are a couple of wars going on,'" the congressman adds.
Which apparently leaves little time to investigate how soldiers are being recruited for those wars.
"In a war situation these are some of the things that happen, and we have to acknowledge it's a messy, awful situation."
Large sections of the Army's report were blacked out before it was released to NewsChannel 5 Investigates.
But, reading between the lines, it appears that some in the chain of command wanted even harsher punishment for some of the recruiters.
But U.S. Army Recruiting Command, which has to worry about filling the ranks, overrode those recommendations.
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