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2 recruiters disciplined for signing autistic teen
Oregonlive ^ | Thursday, August 10, 2006 | MICHELLE ROBERTS

Posted on 08/10/2006 11:00:28 PM PDT by DuxFan4ever

Inquiry - Jared Guinther's parents call the Army's actions fair, saying they just wanted to "get our son out"

The U.S. Army has disciplined two recruiters who were involved in signing up a Portland teenager with autism, military and congressional officials confirmed Wednesday.

S. Douglas Smith, a civilian spokesman for the U.S. Army Recruiting Command in Fort Knox, Ky., said a military investigation found that one of the two recruiters improperly concealed 19-year-old Jared Guinther's disability, which should have made him ineligible for service.

That recruiter, Cpl. Ronan Ansley, has been relieved from recruiting duties and will be reassigned.

Military officials also admonished Sgt. Alejandro Velasco, who worked with Ansley in the Army Recruiting Station in Southeast Portland.

Investigators could not prove that Velasco tried to hide the fact that Guinther is autistic, Smith said, but cited the recruiter "for errors or lack of attention to duty." Velasco will continue recruiting in Southeast Portland.

"At least we can tell the public when we have an allegation, we take it seriously and take the right steps," Smith said Wednesday.

The Army rescinded Guinther's recruitment two days after The Oregonian reported in May that he had been signed up to be a cavalry scout, one of the Army's most dangerous jobs. The story made national news, and Rep. Earl Blumenauer, D-Ore., whose congressional district encompasses Portland, called for an investigation.

Guinther's father, Paul, said Wednesday that the military's actions were fair.

"We didn't want to have the recruiters' lives ruined over this," he said. "We just wanted them to admit what they'd done and get our son out of his enlistment obligation."

Paul Guinther and his wife, Brenda, told The Oregonian earlier that their son was diagnosed with autism at age 3 and did not know there was a raging war in Iraq at the time he began talking to recruiters.

The Guinthers said they had unsuccessfully appealed to recruiters to review Jared's medical and school records before finalizing his enlistment. The records detailed his long history with autism, a developmental disability that can interfere with the ability to communicate and process emotions.

The Portland Army Recruiting Battalion Headquarters opened an internal investigation in May. Velasco did not return a phone call Wednesday seeking comment, and Ansley could not be reached.

Military policies forbid enlisting anyone with a mental disorder that interferes with school or employment, unless a recruit can show he or she hasn't required special academic or job accommodations for a year.

Jared had been in special education classes since preschool. Through a special program for disabled workers, he has a part-time job scrubbing toilets and dumping trash. He scored 43 out of 99 on the Army's basic entrance exam. A score of 31 is the lowest the Army allows for enlistment, military officials said.

The Guinthers said their son, who graduated this year from Marshall High School, failed the Army test the first time he took it.

Maj. Curt Steinagel, commander of the Military Entrance Processing Station in Portland, said in May that the papers filled out by Jared's recruiters contained no indication of his disability.

Rock band, classes

Paul Guinther said Jared, who plays guitar, has started a rock band and is thinking about trying some community college classes next year. Although initially disappointed that he couldn't join the Army, Jared now understands what happened and is "very relieved" that he won't be going to Iraq, his father said.

He said Jared penned a letter of thanks to Blumenauer, who had written Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld demanding an investigation into the case. Blumenauer issued a statement Wednesday saying military recruiting practices need an overhaul.

"I am pleased to see the Army take action in response to the young autistic man that was recruited from a Portland station," the congressman said, "and I am anxious to hear their plan to prevent these situations from occurring in the future."

Michelle Roberts: 503-294-5041; michelleroberts@news.oregonian.com


TOPICS: Foreign Affairs; US: Oregon
KEYWORDS: anamericansoldier; terrorwar; waronterror

1 posted on 08/10/2006 11:00:29 PM PDT by DuxFan4ever
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Comment #2 Removed by Moderator

To: DuxFan4ever
Sounds to me like a "lose-lose" situation for the recruiters. They're under quite a bit of pressure to bring in new recruits and damn near half the male population could be found to be "autistic" if they had the right doctor to sign off on the diagnosis.
3 posted on 08/10/2006 11:07:34 PM PDT by Drew68
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To: DuxFan4ever

Dang! You recruit a few boys who can concentrate on the sight picture and trigger, then THIS happens!


4 posted on 08/10/2006 11:12:35 PM PDT by 308MBR ( "She pulled up her petticoat, and I pulled out for Tulsa!" Abstinence training from Bob Wills.)
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To: Drew68

Well, this one is claimed to have a documented autism history stretching back for 16 years - it does not sound like something concocted for enlistment disqualification purposes. If true, then the recruiters screwed up.


5 posted on 08/10/2006 11:13:07 PM PDT by GSlob
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To: DuxFan4ever
Don't know if I want to laugh or cry

Min score is 31, the autistic/special ed kid score 43? He must have had some 'help' from the office staff. --

That said, I can image that a military recruiter is the loneliest job in Portland....
6 posted on 08/10/2006 11:16:20 PM PDT by ASOC (The phrase "What if" or "If only" are for children.)
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To: GSlob
Well, this one is claimed to have a documented autism history stretching back for 16 years - it does not sound like something concocted for enlistment disqualification purposes.

Also says he graduated from high school. Should be good enough to serve his country.

I mean, c'mon! What do we expect every recruit to be a freakin' Rhodes Scholar? Everybody knows that autism diagnoses are given out to practically any young boy who can't sit still in class.

Forrest Gump seemed to do pretty well in the army!

7 posted on 08/10/2006 11:19:38 PM PDT by Drew68
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To: Drew68

This was continuously documented for 16 years. Try to find a family doctor who will stick around for a quarter as long.


8 posted on 08/10/2006 11:21:27 PM PDT by HiTech RedNeck
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To: ASOC
the autistic/special ed kid score 43? He must have had some 'help' from the office staff.

If he got a 43 on his ASVAB, he is more than qualified to serve. And hanging these E-4 corporals out to dry for signing him up is pretty lousy.

9 posted on 08/10/2006 11:22:15 PM PDT by Drew68
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To: HiTech RedNeck
This was continuously documented for 16 years. Try to find a family doctor who will stick around for a quarter as long.

I can tell you all about autism. I have a family member who was diagnosed. When people think "autism" they think of "Rain Man." Not every autistic child is nearly as affected.

10 posted on 08/10/2006 11:25:54 PM PDT by Drew68
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To: Drew68

Graduated from high school - from special ed classes. I would expect every recruit to be able and willing to stand at attention - to receive, understand and carry out his sergeant's orders. That's not being a Rhodes scholar, but a non-negotiable minimum.


11 posted on 08/10/2006 11:27:33 PM PDT by GSlob
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To: Drew68

So sorry, the military regs spell out that this recruiter was clearly out of bounds.


12 posted on 08/10/2006 11:28:27 PM PDT by HiTech RedNeck
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To: DuxFan4ever

We need to recruit all the killer zombies that pester those small southern towns - they can only be killed by head shots, and don't need any more sleep.


13 posted on 08/11/2006 12:11:18 AM PDT by Dumpster Baby ("Hope somebody finds me before the rats do .....")
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To: Cheney-In-2008
In these tough times, you gotta do what you gotta do.

WHat in the world does that mean?

14 posted on 08/11/2006 12:18:49 AM PDT by Choose Ye This Day (Why does our government "of the people" do things the people don't want--overtax & overregulate us?)
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To: GSlob
Depending on his function level and particular manifestations he might be ideal for certain jobs....I have a friend who is very high functioning and he would be an excellent aerial recon interpreter or really anything that requires high concentration and incredible attention to detail, trouble is, somebody would have to drag him out of his chair once he got started or he'd stay at it through an artillery barrage.
15 posted on 08/11/2006 12:42:57 AM PDT by Uriah_lost (http://www.wingercomics.com/d/20051205.html)
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To: Cheney-In-2008

not exactly sure why its funny


16 posted on 08/11/2006 12:45:22 AM PDT by stuck_in_new_orleans
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To: GSlob

The poor guy spent his life in special education classes and evidently only has the I.Q. to do menial tasks like empty the trash. I'm not an expert, but I think an Army scout has to be able to understand and remember complex orders and may often be in a situation requiring snap decisions. Anyone in the military should have good situational awareness and this guy did not even know there was a war going on? Someone as oblivious as that is likely to wander into trouble. I think he would have been a danger to himself and others.


17 posted on 08/11/2006 1:17:29 AM PDT by Wilhelm Tell (True or False? This is not a tag line.)
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To: Wilhelm Tell
The poor guy spent his life in special education classes and evidently only has the I.Q. to do menial tasks like empty the trash.

And start a rock band, and plan to go to college...

18 posted on 08/11/2006 2:00:39 AM PDT by PAR35
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To: Cheney-In-2008
In these tough times, you gotta do what you gotta do.



19 posted on 08/11/2006 3:16:31 AM PDT by milemark (The Dead: Republicans keep trying to cut their taxes, yet they continue to vote for Democrats.)
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To: PAR35
And start a rock band, and plan to go to college

Emptying the trash beats both of those, both in difficulty and usefulness.
20 posted on 08/11/2006 3:19:46 AM PDT by milemark (The Dead: Republicans keep trying to cut their taxes, yet they continue to vote for Democrats.)
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To: DuxFan4ever

Did the young man disclose his disability to the recruiters and MEPS doctors? If not, then the military is not responsible.


21 posted on 08/11/2006 4:13:01 AM PDT by ViLaLuz (Stop the ACLU - Support the Public Expression of Religion Act 2005 - Call your congressmen.)
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To: DuxFan4ever
Sorry, but I saw that 'autistic' youth on TV. He is planning on entering college to study Chinese culture and continue on with his martial arts.

His daddy was whining that he didn't want his son in the army, he might get hurt.

The student was articulate and intelligent.

This new scam in the education system is getting a bit over the top. The kid has been 'classified' since he was three. That means, free pre school, extra time to take tests, all kinds of extra privileges.

22 posted on 08/11/2006 4:30:59 AM PDT by OldFriend (I Pledge Allegiance to the Flag.....and My Heart to the Soldier Who Protects It.)
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To: OldFriend
This new scam in the education system is getting a bit over the top. The kid has been 'classified' since he was three.

Yea likely about the time he got some of his now REQUIRED vaccines which has long been a suspected been link to triggering autism. It can and usually does show up in infants actually. Three would be about the right age but it can be detected earlier. It is a real Neurological Disorder whether you believe it or not.

Autism isn't by any means a scam and there are widely varying degree's of it. The man could seem highly intelligent and likely be so but still not fit for military duty especially as a Forward Observer in an Artillery Battery. These are the ones who among other things call in target coordinates. This is a highly very dangerous job in combat requiring 100% mental capacities. One small boo boo can put a round coming down on your troops. You're doing this while at the same time taking fire in many cases. Placing an Autistic adult in combat would be highly risky both for himself and others. There is sensory processing issues with autism. There are in many cases Epileptic issues that can show up also. The Army failed to do a basic check on him such as high school records etc.

When the recruiters were told the man had problems such as this it was the recruiters military and moral duty to make certain he recieved 4F status. Had the autism become more of an issue under combat stress this man may have faced a less than Honorable outcome in his military service for things beyond his control. The Army would not have looked for the problem but would have treated it as a discipline issue and charged him under the UCMJ with applicable articles.

23 posted on 08/11/2006 6:23:19 AM PDT by cva66snipe (If it was wrong for Clinton why do some support it for Bush? Party over nation destroys the nation.)
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To: cva66snipe
I am not saying that people with autistic children are scamming the system. I am saying that child study teams, pediatricians, and parents have been scamming the system for decades.

Again, I saw a TV interview with the young man and heard his father saying that he didn't want his son to join the army, he might get hurt.

24 posted on 08/11/2006 6:27:49 AM PDT by OldFriend (I Pledge Allegiance to the Flag.....and My Heart to the Soldier Who Protects It.)
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To: ViLaLuz

When I was a teenager, had a recruiter asked me if I were autistic, I would have told him no....that I couldn't paint worth a crap.


25 posted on 08/11/2006 6:28:17 AM PDT by Mr. Lucky
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To: Drew68

26 posted on 08/11/2006 6:35:53 AM PDT by BaBaStooey (I heart Emma Caulfield.)
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To: OldFriend
I am not saying that people with autistic children are scamming the system. I am saying that child study teams, pediatricians, and parents have been scamming the system for decades.

Autism is just part of the problem. All too often they have more issues than that meaning substantial medical needs, speech therapy, Occupational Therapy, and teachers trained to work with them in many cases.

Again, I saw a TV interview with the young man and heard his father saying that he didn't want his son to join the army, he might get hurt.

If my son had autism and the Army let him enlist I would be concerned as well that he or his fellow soldiers might get hurt. I think you mis-read his concern. Meaning the father knew his son had problems and his father knew his limitations and understood he was in way over his head and would get hurt. He would likely say as much if he decided to take up racing cars.

Look for what's it's worth I went to school a couple of years with autistics and this was before mainstreaming was heard of. None of them not one belonged in the military. I am not Autistic but had the military doctors both when I joined the Navy and later the National Guards done their jobs I would have been classified 4F and refused enlistment.

I have sensory processing damage both auditory and visual. It includes having one eye functional vision never both. It showed up very early on. Thus the reason I spent two years in rehab and it worked pretty well till I was about 34. But even when I joined the Navy the condition {they didn't have a name for it then} made them waiver me out of working in boiler rooms. I was a hazard to myself and others as it effected my balance and other things due to Inner Ear issues.

27 posted on 08/11/2006 6:53:08 AM PDT by cva66snipe (If it was wrong for Clinton why do some support it for Bush? Party over nation destroys the nation.)
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To: Drew68
Everybody knows that autism diagnoses are given out to practically any young boy who can't sit still in class.

No, you are thinking about ADD, Attention Deficit Disorder. Autism is a horse of a different color. Someone with ADD could probably handle the job of being a Cav Scout, but I don't believe an autistic person could.

Not only would it be making pure cannon fodder out of him, but it would also be making cannon fodder of those around him, that were depending on him to be 100% on the job.

The recruiter demonstrated a callousness towards this young man, but he also demonstrated callousness and indifference to anyone who might have to serve in combat with him. Would you want someone who was autistic to be manning the gun turret of your humvee in a combat zone? I wouldn't.

28 posted on 08/11/2006 7:18:27 AM PDT by JavaTheHutt (I'm JavaTheHutt, and I approve of this message.)
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To: ViLaLuz

Thank you!

Autism isn't specifically on the form and just because the recruiter noticed he was slow wouldn't make it his responsibility to detect and document it.

It seems that the kid did this all on his own and maybe his parents found out and didn't approve.

Maybe this is a case of parents sheltering the young man more than recruiter impropriety.


29 posted on 08/11/2006 7:24:26 AM PDT by Eagle Eye (There ought to be a law against excess legislation.)
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To: HiTech RedNeck

Which ones?

I used to be pretty familiar with AR 601-210.

In fact, I used to train recruiters and from what I see from the article it isn't as clear as you seem to think.


30 posted on 08/11/2006 7:27:05 AM PDT by Eagle Eye (There ought to be a law against excess legislation.)
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To: GSlob
I would expect every recruit to be able and willing to stand at attention - to receive, understand and carry out his sergeant's orders. That's not being a Rhodes scholar, but a non-negotiable minimum.

Emphasis mine. Understanding orders is a matter of intelligence. Autism has nothing to do with intelligence. It can have a lot to do (negatively) with the ability to recieve and carry out (OBEY) those orders. Heck, getting the autistic person to even acknowledge that the order was issued (if the order was to do something unpleasant) could be problematic.

31 posted on 08/11/2006 7:30:38 AM PDT by ArrogantBustard (Western Civilisation is aborting, buggering, and contracepting itself out of existence.)
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To: Drew68
If he got a 43 on his ASVAB, he is more than qualified to serve. And hanging these E-4 corporals out to dry for signing him up is pretty lousy.

What a load of crap. Ray Charles could get a 43 on the ASVAB too, wouldn't make him qualified to serve in the military. The ASVAB test is not the sole indicator of a person's ability to serve in the armed forces, and you know that. If it was, the recruiters would all be hanging around down at the Goodwill training center downtown, trying to recruit all the handicapped people, because I'm sure it would be pretty easy to talk them into signing the papers.

If we take your lame brain hypothesis that passing the exam automatically means that a person is qualified for the job, then it must be OK for Charles Manson to open a daycare facility if he could pass the state licensing exam.

I went to basic with a guy who had obviously passed the ASVAB exam, since he was in basic training. He had signed up for a very technical job which would require him to spend a lot of time studying techincal manuals. The problem with that was a small technicality called ILLITERACY. Yep, he couldn't read, yet he was signed up for a job as a laser repair technician, which would require a high level of reading ability to comprehend the technical manuals.

How did he pass the ASVAB if he couldn't read? His recruiter told him to answer "C" to every question. He Charlied the entire test, and got enough right answers to qualify. He was discharged and sent home after his 2nd week in AIT. They didn't discover he couldn't read in basic, or he probably would have been sent home from there.

32 posted on 08/11/2006 7:33:33 AM PDT by JavaTheHutt (I'm JavaTheHutt, and I approve of this message.)
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To: Eagle Eye
Maybe this is a case of parents sheltering the young man more than recruiter impropriety.

I don't think so, not in this case. When I first read about this happening, however many weeks ago that was, the article posted here on FR stated that the recruiters were in possesion of medical records documenting the young man's autism, but were not concerned. Once they learned he potentially had a problem, they should have taken him and his medical records back down to th MEPS center to have one of the doctors down there make the decision. From what I have read, this wasn't done. If the doctor had said yes, he was fit to serve, then the recruiters would be in the clear. They deserve the reprimand for failing to exercise due diligence.

33 posted on 08/11/2006 7:46:59 AM PDT by JavaTheHutt (I'm JavaTheHutt, and I approve of this message.)
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To: ASOC

If it's just a aptitude test alone, then he would sure to pass. Many Autistic people are able to pass many aptitude tests, or even pass them with flying colors. However, Autism, and even Asperger's (A milder form of autism which tends to increase aptitude but decrease social skills) would be disadvantegous to a soldier. Soldiers are meant to work in groups. Autism and Asperger's people are usually loners and have a hard time socially functioning, so an Autistic person, unless they work VERY hard, will find it difficult to be in the armed forces.


34 posted on 08/11/2006 7:50:42 AM PDT by TypeZoNegative (".... We are a nation of Americans. We are DECENDED from legal immigrants"- johnandrhonda)
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To: ASOC
That said, I can image that a military recruiter is the loneliest job in Portland....

That and the Ithaca office. Although I am sure the protestors and people calling in threats keep the recrutiers from being lonely.

35 posted on 08/11/2006 7:52:56 AM PDT by KC_Conspirator
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To: JavaTheHutt

Based on that info I'll agree with you.

'Back in my time'....I processed several questionable applicants because there were times where I was not able to clearly disqualify the person and needed someone with specific authority to do so.

Sometimes there are waivers for conditions if there is a meritorious case.

Again, based on the info you provided, the recruiters et themselves up for RI investigation by withholding documents and then trusting the applicant to do the same at MEPS. What they did was not just dumb it was unethical.


36 posted on 08/11/2006 7:55:13 AM PDT by Eagle Eye (There ought to be a law against excess legislation.)
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To: ASOC
That said, I can image that a military recruiter is the loneliest job in Portland....

The recruiters around here must not be that lonely.

I went down to see the recruiters recently. It's only been 14 months since I got out of service, and I was interested in going back in service full time, as an active duty reservist.

The recruiter did the paper work, and was waiting to get a copy of my medical records from my prior service time so I could go down to the MEPS and take the physical. He told me it would take a day or two to get the records. I told him to call me as soon as they came in so I could get my physical done asap, because I was really eager to get back in service. I haven't heard from him in over 5 weeks now.

37 posted on 08/11/2006 8:04:04 AM PDT by JavaTheHutt (I'm JavaTheHutt, and I approve of this message.)
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To: Eagle Eye
Sometimes there are waivers for conditions if there is a meritorious case. Again, based on the info you provided, the recruiters et themselves up for RI investigation by withholding documents and then trusting the applicant to do the same at MEPS. What they did was not just dumb it was unethical.

Exactly. I have to have a medical waiver on my hearing. After one too many close calls with incoming mortar and rocket fire, my hearing just isn't the same. I've had a constant ringing in my left ear since the 5 ton truck I was riding in was flipped over by a road side bomb. I'm not eligible for certain combat MOS jobs anymore, but with a waiver I can still serve in a support MOS.

38 posted on 08/11/2006 8:12:21 AM PDT by JavaTheHutt (I'm JavaTheHutt, and I approve of this message.)
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To: DuxFan4ever
In BCT in '69,there was a guy in our company who was obviously retarded.Not *profoundly* retarded,but enough so that he should have never been taken into the military.

And he was an "RA"...not a "US".

He went AWOL as we were preparing to graduate BCT.I hope that he was given a decent discharge.

39 posted on 08/11/2006 8:41:29 AM PDT by Gay State Conservative
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To: JavaTheHutt; All
No, you are thinking about ADD, Attention Deficit Disorder.

Yeah. That's what I was thinking of. I'll humbly submit my mea culpa now.

40 posted on 08/11/2006 10:03:49 AM PDT by Drew68
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To: TypeZoNegative

Those "Army of One" ads would be enticing to such folks.


41 posted on 08/11/2006 6:47:34 PM PDT by HiTech RedNeck
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To: JavaTheHutt
He Charlied the entire test, and got enough right answers to qualify.

That's BAD.

42 posted on 08/11/2006 6:49:03 PM PDT by HiTech RedNeck
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To: HiTech RedNeck

Think about it. The test is multiple choice, is it not? 31/99=31.3%. You should be able to get 25% or so by guessing. So the expected score would be (% known) +(1/4)*(%unknown) = (%known)+(1/4)(1-%known) = 25 + (.75*%known)

Set % known = to x, and 25 +.75x=31.3, .75x=6.3, x=8.4. So, in order to pass the test, one would have to know about 8.4% of the answers and be able to fill in random bubbles for the rest.

Also, Jared did fail the test the first time. Take it enough times, and one could get that extra 8.4% out of luck.

Besides, Jared is going to an open admissions community college and won't necessarily pass. He's still living at home with his parents.

Academics aside, many autistics have problems sleeping/digestive issues/seizures/depression/other issues that could interfere with military service. Even very high functioning autistics could have trouble with, for example, a college dorm, a job at a daycare center, or anything else requiring social assertiveness. Many who excel adacemically do not understand, for example, that a peer has a different level of authority than a parent or teacher and are therefore extremely easy targets for schoolyard bullies or anyone else who who wants to take advantage.

Even if he had gotten in, I strongly doubt Jared would have made it through boot camp.


43 posted on 09/10/2006 12:45:33 PM PDT by sweetcynic
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To: ASOC

LOL. I bet it is.


44 posted on 09/10/2006 12:50:09 PM PDT by patton (Sanctimony frequently reaps its own reward.)
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To: Gay State Conservative

We also had one in our BCT, in 1965. A guy from Arkansas, all he wanted was, a pair of combar boots and Sgt. stripes. After one month, he was given a discharge. He took his pay, went to the PX, bought a pair of boots and a set of Sgt. stripes. He was a "US".

We always had extra duty during his one month, because of his lack of what was going on.


45 posted on 09/10/2006 1:00:43 PM PDT by Capt_Hank (btu's...kcal's...to kJ's, but my activation energy is still high.)
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To: Drew68

The army has relaxed its stand on ADD/ADHD(which btw is generally FAR FAR more minor than autism/PDD or even Aspergher's). Any history of ADD/ADHD used to be an automatically disqualifying, but now one just has to have functioned for a year off meds.

Autism, on the other hand: On the severe end, autism results in institutionalization because they are either violent or functionally retarded. Some severe autistics never learn to talk or get toilet trained, or they may engage in self-injurious behavior such as head-banging or biting their hands well beyond the point of bleeding. On the mild end, Aspergher's interferes with social functioning, which can lead to difficulty maintaining jobs/relationships, [b]handling stressful or unexpected situations[/b], or understanding social cues. Also, autism often either improves or worsens in adolescence, though it can't be grown out of.

Jared, who didn't learn to talk until he was four years old, appears to have been in between the above two extremes.

Also, people like Bill Gates tend to be undiagnosed for a reason. Any social issues have not interfered with their school or job functionality, so they don't even qualify for a diagnosis. I don't think self-diagnosed Aspergher's counts.

I still think it's crazy that ADD was an absolute disqualifier but someone who didn't know that there's been an Iraq war going on for the last few years was almost allowed to enlist.


46 posted on 09/10/2006 11:58:39 PM PDT by sweetcynic
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To: Drew68

They are also on meds.


47 posted on 09/11/2006 12:02:26 AM PDT by endthematrix (None dare call it ISLAMOFACISM!)
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