WASHINGTON - The Pentagon has rescinded a recruiting policy that banned anyone who was hospitalized because of COVID-19 from joining the military without a waiver, a top official said Thursday. Matthew Donovan, the undersecretary of defense for personnel and readiness, told reporters Thursday that he had nixed the interim policy guidance and that the military had returned to its previous guidelines for military recruits.
He said COVID-19 cases would be processed on a case-by-case basis, going through the infectious disease history of each individual recruit and then relying on the attending physician to determine if the recruitment candidate meets the military’s accession standards.
Chief Pentagon spokesman Jonathan Hoffman told reporters the military would look at COVID-19 hospitalizations as it does underlying illnesses such as asthma, which is not an automatic disqualifier for joining the military. “Like any other disease, an underlying damage or illness or harm that results from that would have to be examined by a physician (to) make a determination whether they can meet the standards for the force,” Hoffman said.
The previous guidance, revealed earlier this month, dictated that individuals who were hospitalized with COVID-19 were “medically disqualified for accession, subject to further review of hospitalization/comorbidity records, and waiver by a Service Medical Waiver Authority.”
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