Falklands veteran Simon Weston criticises Army drugs readmission policy

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Rules that allow soldiers who have been kicked out of the Army for taking illegal drugs to apply to rejoin after only two years are a “step too far”, a prominent veteran has said.

Servicemen and women who are discharged for taking illegal substances like cocaine and cannabis are allowed to rejoin after 24 months if they pass a drugs test and meet other fitness and suitability criteria.

Ministers have been accused of taking a softer line on drug abuse among soldiers in order to cope with recruitment pressures.

Simon Weston
Simon Weston said drugs are incompatible with Army life (Lauren Hurley/PA)

“I know people deserve second chances but bringing back drug-takers just two years after they were caught is a step too far for me,” the former Welsh Guardsman told the Mail on Sunday.

“We have to stomach it because the Government has made such a terrible mess of managing Army recruitment.”

The right to reapply is given to all soldiers who are discharged for taking illegal drugs.

This covers specialist soldiers, who remain eligible to apply to a financial reward scheme if they rejoin the Army.

If they complete a period of service, they could be given up to £10,000 under the scheme.

The Army does not have figures for the number of soldiers who have reapplied to join after a drugs-related discharge.

However, it is understood the number of specialist soldiers who may have reapplied to join Army such a discharge is small.

An Army spokesman said: “We have always welcomed applications from individuals whose circumstances have changed since their time of leaving the Army.

“Those reapplying must meet our high standards in order to rejoin the Army and all applications are considered on a case-by-case basis.”

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