We have a new show! S-Town, a podcast from Serial and This American Life, is coming March 28. Listen to the preview →

Interactive

Number of Waivers Given to U.S. Army Recruits

Bowe Bergdahl washed out of the Coast Guard during basic training in 2006. His military record didn’t go into detail about why; his separation was categorized only as an “uncharacterized discharge.” This meant that when Bergdahl went to enlist in the army in 2008, he had to explain that previous discharge and get a waiver. The army considers waivers for all kinds of reasons, like if a recruit has a criminal record or a physical or mental health issue. They are granted on a case-by-case basis. In the middle of two long wars, in Iraq and Afghanistan, the army softened some of its restrictions and approved more waivers to meet recruitment needs. Hover over the graphic to see the number of waivers given for each year.

All Recruits
Waivers
  • '01
    75,855 Waivers3,148 4.2%
  • '02
    79,585 Waivers4,518 5.7%
  • '03
    74,132 Waivers4,198 5.7%
  • '04
    77,587 Waivers9,292 12%
  • '05
    73,373 Waivers11,018 15%
  • '06
    80,635 Waivers13,644 16.9%
  • '07
    80,410 Waivers16,620 20.7%
  • '08
    80,517 Waivers13,622 16.9%
  • '09
    70,455 Waivers9,938 14.1%
  • '10
    74,577 Waivers7,872 10.6%
  • '11
    64,019 Waivers6,653 10.4%
  • '12
    60,490 Waivers7,764 12.8%
  • '13
    69,154 Waivers9,320 13.5%
  • '14
    57,101 Waivers8,095 14.2%
  • '15
    72,072 Waivers7,189 10%
Source: U.S. Army

Follow Serial