Tuesday, May 09, 2006


Army Enlists Autistic Boy

This is...well, the Army is desperate for, ah, bodies. So desperate that in Portland Oregon, cruising Army recruiters signed up an 18-year-old autistic young man. He’d been diagnosed with autism, “moderate to severe,” at age three.

He’d been in special ed classes until his senior year, when he went into regular classes so he could graduate with his peers like any other kid.

He scored 43 out of 99 on the Army’s entrance test; they will enlist anyone who scores 31 or above.

The major in charge of the induction center in Portland said the boy’s enlistment papers showed no indication of his disability.

Do the recruiters get a bounty on each new inductee? The recruiters—and their C.O., the major, should be ashamed of themselves.

Parents try to keep autistic from war
5/8/2006, 12:33 a.m. PT
The Associated Press
PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — Jared Guinther wasn't aware of the Iraq war until last year, when his parents informed him of the fact after he was approached by a military recruiter outside a strip mall.

Though the 18-year-old showed interest in joining the Army, his parents figured it would never happen. After all, their son had been diagnosed with autism at age 3.

But at a time when recruiters face increasing pressure to enlist people, Guinther came home with papers showing he had signed up for the Army's most dangerous job — cavalry scout.

He is scheduled to leave for basic training Aug. 16.

"When Jared first started talking about joining the Army, I thought, 'Well, that isn't going to happen,'" said Paul Guinther, Jared's father. "I told my wife not to worry about it. They're not going to take anybody in the service who's autistic."

The Portland Army Recruiting Battalion Headquarters is investigating whether recruiters at the U.S. Army Recruiting Station in southeast Portland improperly concealed Jared's disability.

The investigation was opened after his parents contacted The Oregonian and the newspaper asked questions about his enlistment. Maj. Curt Steinagel, commander of the Military Entrance Processing Station in Portland, said the papers filled out by Jared's recruiters contained no indication of his disability.

Military rules prohibit 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 12 months.

S. Douglas Smith, spokesman for the U.S. Army Recruiting Command, in Fort Knox, Ky., said he could not comment on the Portland investigation.

As a child, Guinther was diagnosed with moderate to severe autism, a developmental disorder that causes problems with social interaction, language and intelligence. No one knows its cause or cure.

School and medical records show that Jared, whose recent verbal IQ tested very low, spent years in special education classes. It was only when he was a high school senior that his mother pushed for him to take regular classes because she wanted him to get a normal rather than a modified diploma when he graduates this spring.

Jared scored 43 out of 99 on the Army's basic entrance exam — 31 is the lowest grade the Army allows for enlistment, military officials said.

The Guinthers said their son doesn't understand the dangers or the details of what he's has done. When they asked Jared how long he would be in the Army, he said he didn't know. His enlistment papers show it's just over four years.

As the Guinthers wait to hear whether the Army will release Jared from his enlistment, they say their son is disappointed he might not go because he thought the recruiters were his friends. But they're willing to accept that.

"If he went to Iraq and got hurt or killed," Paul Guinther said, "I couldn't live with myself knowing I didn't try to stop it."


Information from: The Oregonian, http://www.oregonlive.com

Copyright 2006 Associated Press. All rights reserved.
This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Comments: Post a Comment

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?