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The term Section 8 refers to a category of discharge from the United States military when judged mentally unfit for service. It also came to mean any service member given such a discharge or behaving as if deserving such a discharge, as in the expression, "he's a Section 8". The term comes from Section VIII of the World War I-era United States Army Regulation 615-360, which provided for the discharge of those deemed unfit for military service.
In the 1950s, a Section 8 discharge was commonly given to any service member found to be homosexual. As a form of undesirable discharge, it deprived the person of veteran's benefits.
Discharge under Section 8 is no longer practiced, as medical discharges for psychological/psychiatric reasons are now covered by a number of regulations. In the Army, such discharges are handled under the provisions of Army Regulation 635-200, Active Duty Enlisted Administrative Separations. Chapter 5, paragraph 13 governs the separation of personnel medically diagnosed with a personality disorder.
Section 8 became a household phrase when used in the 1970s TV series M*A*S*H, in which the character Corporal Klinger was constantly seeking one (although as the series progressed, Klinger eventually abandoned his efforts). Other pop culture references to the term include the movie Full Metal Jacket, in which a recruit (Leonard Lawrence aka "Private Gomer Pyle") becomes noticeably unstable as a result of the abuse his drill instructor and platoon-mates subject him to, and while in Vietnam, when Cowboy's Platoon reflects on a dead marine who was masturbating ten times a day, and was caught masturbating in a medical waiting room.