Section 8 (military)
Section 8 is a category of discharge from the United States military, used for a service 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 II-era United States Army Regulation 615-360, which provided for the discharge of those deemed unfit for military service.
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 AR 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 include:
- In Peter Parker, the Spectacular Spider-Man #52 (March 1981), Blackbyrd describes Gideon Mace as "real Section-8 material".
- The 1987 movie Full Metal Jacket, in which a recruit (Leonard Lawrence, a.k.a. "Private Gomer Pyle") becomes noticeably unstable as a result of the abuse from his drill instructor and platoon-mates. Later in the film, it is mentioned again when Private "Cowboy" mentions how one of his recently deceased platoon-mates was about to be shipped out on a Section 8 for chronic masturbation.
- The 1998 episode of Stargate SG-1,The Gamekeeper, in which the former commanding officer of Jack O'Neill asks him if he wants to be "Section-8" when Jack freaks out and threaten him because he's reliving the death of a friend again and again.
- The 2003 movie Basic, in which a DEA agent Tom Hardy (played by John Travolta) investigates a group of rogue Rangers turned drug dealers calling themselves Section 8. They are later revealed to be a black-ops anti-drug unit led by Hardy (now addressed as "Colonel"); the "Section-8" insane-mercenary story is a cover to spook the cartels.
- The 2007 video game BioShock, in which Atlas, via radio, informs the player that Fort Frolic has been handed over to a deranged artist named Sander Cohen. "Cohen's an artist, says some. He's a Section 8, says I. I seen all kinds of cutthroats, freaks, and headcases, but Cohen's a real lunatic."
- The 2016 movie Hacksaw Ridge, in which Army recruit Desmond Doss is required to undergo psychiatric evaluation or else face a Section 8 discharge for refusing to participate in weapons training because of his religious convictions.
- 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.