WASHINGTON (FinalCall.com) – The few, the strong, the brave and some convicted felons could well describe today’s Marine Corps. In the Army, more convicted felons can be all they can be too, as all branches of the military relaxed their standards allowing 861 felons to join the ranks in 2007, according to data released April 21 by the Congressional Oversight Committee.

From arsonists, to burglars to car thieves, each branch of the military saw a rise in waivers extended to convicted felons in an effort to meet the needs of war.

Last year Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.), chair of the Oversight Committee sent a letter to Under Secretary of Defense David Chu that requested documentation on the sharp increase in personnel conduct waivers, which allow the enlistment of U.S. service members who would otherwise be precluded by recruitment standards.


Congressman Waxman requested the number of waivers granted for specific criminal felonies in FY 2006 and FY 2007. In his follow up letter after the data was received he expressed his concerns about the variety of felonies committed such as “rape, sexual abuse, sexual assault, criminal sexual abuse, incest, or other sex crimes, indecent acts or liberties with a child, molestation,” and “terrorist threats including bomb threats.”

Rep Waxman said that “concerns have been raised that the significant increase in the recruitment of persons with criminal records is a result of the strain put on the military by the Iraq war and may be undermining military readiness.”

In his second letter, Rep. Waxman asked the Department of Defense, Army, Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps to provide more detail information regarding the number of personnel conduct waivers since 2001 and the impact of increasing the number of personnel conduct waivers granted and any programs that provide additional training, counseling, or oversight to those enlistees for whom waivers were granted.

The lowering of standards by the military is no surprise to Morten G. Ender, Ph.d., sociology program director in the Department of Behavioral Sciences & Leadership at the United States Military Academy in West Point, N.Y.

“In the last war in Viet Nam, there was a draft. This is an historical pattern. This is nothing new,” he told The Final Call. “What’s new is the all volunteer force. The military now has to rely on the corporate model. If people don’t come to your business you have to compromise your standards or lower your expectations.”

“This is no surprise. An all volunteer military coupled with war and an unpopular war at that, no surprise this is happening,” he said.