Section 8 (military)
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.
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 continually seeking one (until he 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.
- Blue discharge
- Section 8 (video game), a video game named after the military term due to its game mechanics of "dangerously insane" orbital flights.
- "Office of Medical History - Neuropsychiatry in WWII, Chapter 16". United States Department of the Army. 1963. Retrieved 2012-01-04.
- "Active Duty Enlisted Administrative Separations" (PDF). United States Department of the Army. 2005-06-05. Retrieved 2009-01-03.
- "M*A*S*H Episode Guide - Radar's Report". The editors of TV.com. 1973-09-02. Retrieved 2011-02-02.