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UK army to pay former drug-taking soldiers to return

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
Junior soldiers during a passing-out parade. (Getty Images file photo)

The British Ministry of Defense has contacted thousands of former soldiers who failed drugs tests and asked them to return with an additional one-off payment of £10,000.

The British newspaper, the Mail on Sunday, reported that soldiers expelled following drug offences were being re-recruited by MoD officials, attracting them back with "golden hello" payments.

A spokesperson for the Ministry did confirm that payments are being offered to former soldiers, but only in some cases to specialist personnel.

The report said the troops could return to active duty at the same rank but did not specify that the payments were only available to personnel re-joining in specialist roles.

High-profile Falklands War veteran, Simon Weston, told the paper he was "truly appalled", adding drugs are "incompatible with military life" and "soldiers should know that".

He said: "That troops 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".

He continued: "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 lack of respect for the Army's values swanning back into their regiments".

"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".

In an updated statement, a UK Army spokesperson said: "Neither the Army or its recruiting partner Capita, have directly approached individuals to invite them to re-join the Armed Forces".

"However, we always welcome applications from individuals whose circumstances have changed since leaving our ranks".

"Financial incentives to return have been offered to fewer than 10 people since the start of the scheme in April, and only where there is a clear need to fill highly skilled or specialist roles".

Earlier this year, the UK Army was reportedly dealing with a manpower shortage and faced scandals over its recruitment shortfall, the explicit targeting of young working-class people and its sluggish applications procedures.

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