Section 8 (military)

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The term Section 8 refers to a former category of discharge from the United States military, that of a member 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.[1]

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.[citation needed]

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.[2]

Section 8 became a household phrase when used in the 1970s TV series M*A*S*H, in which the character Corporal Klinger was continually seeking one (until he eventually abandoned his efforts).[3] 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.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Office of Medical History - Neuropsychiatry in WWII, Chapter 16". United States Department of the Army. 1963. Retrieved 2012-01-04. 
  2. ^ "Active Duty Enlisted Administrative Separations" (PDF). United States Department of the Army. 2005-06-05. Retrieved 2009-01-03. 
  3. ^ "M*A*S*H Episode Guide - Radar's Report". The editors of 1973-09-02. Retrieved 2011-02-02.