Autistics need not apply, and if they do,
for God's sake don't take them.
An Army of one wrong recruit
Autism - The signing of a disabled Portland man despite warnings reflects problems nationally for military enlistment
Sunday, May 07, 2006
Jared Guinther is 18. Tall and lanky, he will graduate from Marshall High School in June. Girls think he's cute, until they try to talk to him and he stammers or just stands there -- silent.I haven't read anything worse than this in three years.
Diagnosed with autism at age 3, Jared is polite but won't talk to people unless they address him first. It's hard for him to make friends. He lives in his own private world.
Jared didn't know there was a war raging in Iraq until his parents told him last fall -- shortly after a military recruiter stopped him outside a Southeast Portland strip mall and complimented him on his black Converse All Stars.
"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."
But they did. Last month, Jared came home with papers showing that he not only had enlisted, but also had signed up for the Army's most dangerous job: cavalry scout. He is scheduled to leave for basic training Aug. 16.
Officials are now investigating whether recruiters at the U.S. Army Recruiting Station in Southeast Portland improperly concealed Jared's disability, which should have made him ineligible for service.
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 Brenda pushed for Jared to take regular classes because she wanted him to get a normal rather than a modified diploma.
Jared required extensive tutoring and accommodations to pass, but in June he will graduate alongside his younger stepbrother, Matthew Thorsen.
Last fall, Jared began talking about joining the military after a recruiter stopped him on his way home from school and offered a $4,000 signing bonus, $67,000 for college and more buddies than he could count.
Brenda phoned her two brothers, both veterans. She said they laughed and told her not to worry. The military would never take Jared.
They thought it had worked until five weeks ago. Brenda said she called Jared on his cell phone to check what time he'd be home.
Jared has 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.
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.
After learning that Jared had cleared this first hurdle toward enlistment, Brenda said, she called and asked for Ansley's supervisor and got Sgt. Alejandro Velasco.
She said she begged Velasco to review Jared's medical and school records. Brenda said Velasco declined, asserting that he didn't need any paperwork. Under military rules, recruiters are required to gather all available information about a recruit and fill out a medical screening form.
"He was real cocky and he says, 'Well, Jared's an 18-year-old man. He doesn't need his mommy to make his decisions for him.' "
But Jared doesn't understand the dangers or the details of what he has done, the Guinthers said.
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. Jared also was disappointed to learn that he wouldn't be paid the $4,000 signing bonus until after basic training.
During a recent family gathering, a relative asked Jared what he would do if an enemy was shooting at him. Jared ran to his video game console and killed a digital Xbox soldier and announced, "See! I can do it!"
Steinagel, the processing station commander, told The Oregonian that Jared showed up after passing his written exam. None of his paperwork indicated that he was autistic, but if it had, Jared almost certainly would have been disqualified, he said.
On Tuesday, a reporter visited the U.S. Army Recruiting Station at the Eastport Plaza Shopping Center, where Velasco said he had not been told about Jared's autism.
"Cpl. Ansley is Guinther's recruiter," he said. "I was unaware of any type of autism or anything like that."
Velasco initially denied knowing Jared but later said he'd spent a lot of time mentoring him because Jared was going to become a cavalry scout. The job entails "engaging the enemy with anti-armor weapons and scout vehicles," according to an Army recruiting Web site.
After he had spoken for a few moments, Velasco suddenly grabbed the reporter's tape recorder and tried to tear out the tape, stopping only after the reporter threatened to call the police.
With the Guinthers' permission, The Oregonian faxed Jared's medical records to the U.S. Army Recruiting Battalion commander, Lt. Col. David Carlton in Portland, who on Wednesday ordered the investigation.
The Guinthers said that on Tuesday evening, Cpl. Ansley showed up at their door. They said Ansley stated that he would probably lose his job and face dishonorable discharge unless they could stop the newspaper's story.
The Guinthers are eager to hear whether the Army will release Jared from his enlistment. Jared is disappointed he might not go because he thought the recruiters were his friends, they said. 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."
This kid gets to Ft. Knox and within days, they realize he's unfit. Unless he just goes along. Which has happened before.Truly unfit people have made it through basic in the past, hell, they've even deployed cancer survivors in remission
Recruiters are so desperate to make numbers that they could do this and hope he's a problem for training command
Maybe he should have caught a largemouthed bass instead
Update: for the curious, the Army's description of what a Cavalry Scout (MOS 19D)
The Cavalry Scout is the commander's eyes and ears on the battlefield. When information about the enemy is needed, they call on the Scouts. They are responsible for reconnaissance and you will learn about various weapons to include explosives and mines. Cavalry Scouts engage the enemy with anti-armor weapons and scout vehicles in the field, track and report enemy movement and activities, and will direct the employment of various weapon systems onto the enemy.
Here are a few of the duties of a Cavalry Scout:
* Secure and prepare ammunition on scout vehicles
* Load, clear and fire individual and crew-served weapons
* Perform navigation during combat
* Serve as member of observation and listening posts
* Gather and report information on terrain, weather and enemy disposition and equipment
* Collect data to classify routes, tunnels and bridges
* Employ principles of concealment and camouflage
Cavalry Scouts are required to constantly lift heavy objects and endure many stressful situations in combat. Being in top physical and mental shape for this job is crucial.
Job training for Cavalry Scout requires Basic Training, where you learn basic Soldiering skills, and Advanced Individual Training, and 16 weeks of One Station Unit Training (OSUT). The training will take place primarily in the field with some classroom training. Cavalry Scout training never really stops. Whether it's taking part in squad maneuvers, target practice or war games, Cavalry Scouts are constantly working to keep their skills sharp and are in a constant state of readiness.
posted by Steve @ 8:59:00 AM