We have ourselves a nice little army recruiting scandal brewing in little ol’ Oregon. According to a front page story in the Portland Oregonian the local recruiters signed up an 18 year old autistic high school student in spite of his parents’ continued efforts to stop the process. At this point the kid is supposed to report for basic in August. They not only accepted him he’s supposed to be trained as a scout. This is a kid who didn’t even know there was a war on until after he told his folks he’d been approached by a recruiter in a local mall.
The story included several reports that included a mentally ill Ohio recruit who was accepted even though his medical records were readily available. A Houston kid was told he could be arrested if he backed out of a recruiting appointment. A Colorado high school journalist doing and undercover story on recruiting claims he was told to fake a diploma and how to beat a drug test. He’d claimed he was a drop out with a drug problem.
The Portland recruiting office started an investigation after the parents called the local paper and the paper started making calls. The officer in charge of processing enlistment paperwork has stated that the young man’s papers have no record of his disability. The fact that he’s been a special-ed student for his entire academic career would disqualify him from being signed on.
The young man was diagnosed with moderate to severe autism and has needed special-ed classes all the way through school. With a lot of help he will graduate with a standard diploma this spring. While he may have trouble with academics he is a fantastic musician and holds down a part time job doing janitorial work. Actually, he’d probably do just fine in a stateside quartermaster type assignment, but I suspect that most of those jobs have been contracted out to civilian companies at three or four times what a private would be paid.
The parents have stated that their attempts to alert the recruiters to the young man’s disabilities were brushed off. The corporal working with him told his step mother that he’d had special-ed classes too. For dyslexia. Which is a far cry from autism. The next step up the ladder was a sergeant who told the step mother that the young man is question was “a man. He didn’t need his mommy making his decisions for him.” When the paper contacted him he denied ever being contacted by the parents. The denial was followed by an attempt to remove the tape from the reporters’ recorder.
This is a brief coverage of the story. At this point there is an investigation being started.. The corporal faces a reprimand and a possible dishonorable discharge. But these things are happening after all recruitment was suspended last year so that everybody could be reminded about the rules.
It makes me wonder how many have been slipped through because they didn’t have dedicated family looking out for them.