Gates Announces Security Question Change

WASHINGTON, May 1, 2008 – Receiving mental health counseling after…

WASHINGTON, May 1, 2008 – Receiving mental health counseling after combat service will not count against servicemembers when applying for security clearances, Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates announced today.

The department has changed a question on its long-standing security clearance form referencing an applicant’s mental health medical history because officials believe it is needlessly preventing some from seeking counseling.

“The most important thing for us now is to get the word out as far as we can to every man and woman in uniform to let them know about this change, to let them know about the efforts underway, to remove the stigma and to encourage them to seek help when they are in the theater or when they return from the theater,” Gates said.

Gates made the comments following a tour of Fort Bliss, Texas’, Restoration and Resilience Center that helps soldiers who suffer from the Post Tramatic Stress Disorder remain in the service.

The Standard Form 86, Questionnaire for National Security Positions, asks the applicant to acknowledge mental health care in the past seven years. Applicants no longer have to acknowledge care related to service in a military combat zone. The revised wording has been distributed to the services and will be attached to the cover of the questionnaire.

It is part of the DoD’s effort to remove the stigma with seeking mental health care, Gates said.

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