May 8, 2006

Recruiting the mentally ill and developmentally disabled

Posted in Mental health, News at 11:43 am by The Lizard Queen

Just came across a news item via Shakespeare’s Sister that I wanted to pass along and comment on: The signing of a disabled [i.e. autistic] Portland man despite warnings reflects problems nationally for military enlistment.

A comment in the Oregonian article that struck me: “Recruiters in Portland and nationwide spend several hours a day cold-calling high school students, whose phone numbers are provided by schools under the No Child Left Behind Law.”

Can someone explain to me what providing the phone numbers of high school students to military recruiters has to do with making sure they get a good K-12 education? That strikes me as inappropriate at best, if not frighteningly invasive.

Another striking moment: the mother of the autistic man, Jared, “said she spoke to Cpl. Ronan Ansley and explained that Jared had a disability, autism, that could not be outgrown. She said Ansley told her he had been in special classes, too — for dyslexia.”

Well… maybe this is a point in Ansley’s favor. If he’s comparing autism to dyslexia (don’t get me wrong, dyslexia is serious business, too), then he clearly has no grasp of what autism is and why Jared’s family is fighting so hard to keep Jared out of the Army.

Finally, the moment in the story that broke my heart: “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!'”

I can’t say it any better than Shakes Sis did: “No good can come of this for Jared. If his parents aren’t successful in having his enlistment overturned, he will sent to Iraq on a dangerous tour of duty for which he is wholly unprepared. If they are successful, he may never quite understand why they withheld the opportunity from him, since his video game acuity proves, to him, that he can ‘do it.'”

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