Posted on October 8, 2018
Army offers ex-soldiers kicked out over drugs £10,000 to return to duty
Soldiers who were kicked out the British Army for failing drugs tests are reportedly being asked to return with a one off payment of £10,000. Soldiers who tested positive for cocaine, cannabis and ketamine could return to service at the same rank. Army top brass have decided the ‘one strike and you’re out’ policy was too severe. The service is currently 4,000 soldiers short of being an effective fighting force.
The Mail on Sunday revealed now more than 40% of soldiers who fail drug tests stay in their post and those that leave can re-enlist two years later if they agree to a drug test on their return. The Army stressed ‘it has not written to individuals to invite them to re-join the Armed Forces’. Falklands War hero Simon Weston slammed the Army’s U-turn on drugs and claimed soldiers who had not taken drugs were being penalised. He said: ‘I am truly appalled by this decision. That troops who have been discharged for taking drugs can qualify for jobs which come with £10,000 golden hellos, and keep their old ranks, adds insult to injury. ‘It is such a kick in the teeth for long-serving soldiers who have obeyed the rules and resisted temptation to see former colleagues who displayed such a lack of discipline and a lack of respect for the Army’s values swanning back into their regiments. Drugs are incompatible with military life, soldiers should know that.’ The former Welsh Guardsman said he believed people should have second chances but ‘bringing back drug takers is a step too far’.
David Raynes of the National Drug Prevention Alliance added: ‘This is unsurprising as it reflects society’s attitude towards drug taking.’ The Army is believed to have spent £22 million on ‘golden hellos’ to fill highly technical roles needed to maintain weaponry and there are 175 jobs which have a five-figure starting bonus payments. The Army is trying to cope with a huge cost-cutting drive from the Government which has seen regiments merged together in recent years. An Army spokesperson said: ‘We have always welcomed applications from individuals whose circumstances have changed since their time of leaving the Army. ‘Those re-applying must meet our high standards in order to re-join the Army and all applications are considered on a case by case basis. ‘In some cases, payments are available for personnel re-joining in specialist roles and ranks and on completion of a minimum length of service.’