Can Counseling Complicate Your Security Clearance?

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Jennifer Norris was a devoted member of the Maine National Guard.

“I was ecstatic. I absolutely loved serving in the military,” she says.

Norris still wanted a career in the Guard even after she was sexually assaulted by other members of the military. After she was raped, she says she got psychological counseling.

But then it came time to renew the security clearance she needed for her job as a satellite communications technician. One question on the form — Question 21 — asked whether she’d sought help from a mental health professional over the past seven years.

“I just could not bear sharing that information with all those people when my husband didn’t even know,” she says.

Norris says the prospect of divulging that information was too much. Instead, she decided to leave the National Guard.

An essential element for many jobs in the military or other areas of government is receiving security clearance. In addition to undergoing a background check, applicants must answer questions about their personal life, including whether they’ve had psychological counseling.

But that requirement, experts say, is discouraging some people from applying for the jobs or from seeking help.

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http://www.npr.org/2012/09/11/160898774/question-21-a-matter-of-national-security?sc=tw&cc=share

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