Secretary of the Navy (SECNAV) Ray Mabus signs an administrative separation (ADSEP), June 1, 2016. (U.S. Navy photo/Chief Mass Communication Specialist Sam Shavers)

Sailors and Marines facing administrative separation for any reason will have mental health issues taken into account when officials determine their discharge characterization and disability evaluation status under a new policy rolled out by Navy Secretary Ray Mabus this week.

The change makes the Navy the first military service to consider mental health issues when conducting administrative separations, according to a June 1 news release. It acknowledges that post-traumatic stress disorder or traumatic brain injuries received in combat that may contribute to troops’ negative behavior or altered job performance.

Service members may face administrative separation after demonstrating patterns of misconduct, poor performance of duties or non-performance, failure to conform to weight and fitness standards, and drug use, among other reasons. The military also sometimes separates those who have been accused of serious crimes so that the civilian justice system can prosecute them.

Starting immediately, diagnosed mental health conditions will take precedence over misconduct issues when determining the conditions of a Marine or sailor’s discharge, if the mental health issue is believed to have contributed to the misconduct, according to officials….

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