Why The Military Should Consider A Waiver For High
Correction: An error was introduced during the editing process. The author serves in the New York State Guard an unpaid, all-volunteer force and not the National Guard. We regret the error.
Serving in the military is both an honor and a service to those who volunteer in this great country of the United States of America. However, many potential volunteers are disqualified for various reasons, thus the reason for my letter.
I am a 25-year-old man with a four-year college degree in history from Stony Brook University with high-functioning autism. I have been rejected by the Army three times outright just from disclosing my diagnosis. I was also rejected by the Marine Corps twice after disclosing my medical records. I was never given the opportunity to take the ASVAB, nor was I given an opportunity to appeal the decision.
This is a personal fight for me, but this is also a fight for other people with high-functioning autism. For far too long, our right to serve and fight has been denied on the grounds of our disorder we are so much more than that. I was even told by one of my recruiters to hide my diagnosis by not mentioning it. This is wrong. Like the ethnic minority and LGBT service members before us, we shouldnt have to hide who we are when serving.
Spine And Sacroiliac Joints
The following conditions may disqualify you for military service:
b. Complaint of a disease or injury of the spine or sacroiliac joints with or without objective signs that has prevented the individual from successfully following a physically active vocation in civilian life or that is associated with pain referred to the lower extremities, muscular spasm, postural deformities or limitation of motion.
c. Deviation or curvature of spine from normal alignment, structure or function if —
It prevents the individual from following a physically active vocation in civilian life.
It interferes with wearing a uniform or military equipment.
It is symptomatic and associated with positive physical finding and demonstrable by X-ray.
There is lumbar scoliosis greater than 20 degrees, thoracic scoliosis greater than 30 degrees, and kyphosis or lordosis greater than 55 degrees when measured by the Cobb method.
d. Fusion, congenital, involving more than two vertebrae. Any surgical fusion is disqualifying.
e. Healed fractures or dislocations of the vertebrae. A compression fracture, involving less than 25% of a single vertebra is not disqualifying if the injury occurred more than one year before examination and the applicant is asymptomatic. A history of fractures of the transverse or spinous processes is not disqualifying if the applicant is asymptomatic.
f. Juvenile epiphysitis with any degree of residual change indicated by X-ray or kyphosis.
The Military Is Seeking Out People With Autismheres Why
Regardless of age, a person on the autism spectrum is often the subject of unfair discrimination. Various unfavorable associations are frequently attached to those with autism, despite the fact that many individuals on the spectrum possess high intelligence and a great eye for details others may miss. The Israeli Defense Forces recognizes these strengths and has made strides to recruit people with autism.
Formed in a partnership with Ono Academic College, the IDFs program is known as Watching the Horizon. Initially started by a former veteran who had a close friend with two sons on the autism spectrum, the program has taken off and achieved international acclaim. The success has been so overwhelming, in fact, that the program is looking to expand.
Because individuals with autism frequently demonstrate an above-average ability to notice small details, the work involved provides recruits on the spectrum with an excellent chance to succeed. Members of the program are responsible for studying satellite images in search of specific information that may prove invaluable to those planning a mission in the area. Working closely with officers and a variety of advanced decoding tools, these soldiers discover critical data that can help make a military operation successful.
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Air Force Adhd Policy For 2019
Surprisingly, the Air Force is actually one of the easiest branches of the military to join if you have ADD or ADHD issues.
With that said, this wasnt always the case.
Officially, the Air Forces official stance on ADHD in 2019 goes like this:
Candidates who do not meet the standard of never having taken more than a single daily dosage of medication or not having been prescribed medication for their condition for more than 24 cumulative months after the age of 14 will be processed for a waiver if they have demonstrated at least 15 months of performance stability off medication immediately preceding enlistment or enrollment and they continue to meet remaining criteria as outlined in Defense Department Instruction 6130.03.
To put it in simpler terms, if you took medication for ADHD for 24 cumulative months after the age of 14, you can get in with a waiver.
In order to get that waiver approved, you need to prove that you can function at a reasonable cognitive level without being on any ADHD medications for a period of 15 months immediately before entering the Air Force.
Youre probably thinking, Well, what exactly is a reasonable cognitive level?
This essentially means that you can get good grades and performing mental tasks without screwing up.
You can read the full waiver policy here, which was updated in July of 2019.
General And Miscellaneous Conditions And Defects
The following conditions may disqualify you for military service:
a. Allergic manifestations. A reliable history of anaphylaxis to stinging insects. Reliable history of a moderate to severe reaction to common foods, spices or food additives.
b. Any acute pathological condition, including acute communicable diseases, until recovery has occurred without sequelae.
c. Chronic metallic poisoning with lead, arsenic or silver, or beryllium or manganese.
d. Cold injury, residuals of, such as: frostbite, chilblain, immersion foot, trench foot, deep-seated ache, paresthesia, hyperhidrosis, easily traumatized skin, cyanosis, amputation of any digit or ankylosis.
e. Cold urticaria and angioedema, hereditary angioedema.
f. Filariasis, trypanosomiasis, schistosomiasis, uncinariasis or other parasitic conditions, if symptomatic or carrier states.
g. Heat pyrexia, heatstroke or sunstroke. Documented evidence of a predisposition , recurrent episodes requiring medical attention or residual injury malignant hyperthermia.
h. Industrial solvent and other chemical intoxication.
i. Motion sickness. An authenticated history of frequent incapacitating motion sickness after the 12th birthday.
j. Mycotic infection of internal organs.
k. Organ transplant recipient.
l. Presence of human immunodeficiency virus or antibody. Presence is confirmed by repeatedly reactive enzyme-linked immunoassay serological test and positive immunoelectrophoresis test, or other DOD-approved confirmatory test.
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Can You Join The Marines If You Have Autism
The United States Marine Corps is one of the most selective branches of the military as far as recruitment is concerned.
In addition, the fact that the Marines is the second smallest branch of the military branch after the Coast Guard further makes it harder for aspiring recruits to join.
Therefore, you might face an uphill task trying to join the Marines if you have autism or any other medical condition.
What is more discouraging is that waivers are hard to come by in the Marines.
This is because recruiters in the Marines normally regard applying for waivers as a professional risk, especially if it involves handling a case of autism or any other medical disorder.
For this reason, they might not process or approve your request unless there is a shortfall that the Corps is trying to overcome. In the unlikely event that you get a waiver, you may have to serve in a special reserve unit rather than active units.
Do Not Lie On Your Application
Lastly, DO NOT, I REPEAT, DO NOT lie on your enlistment paperwork about medical conditions. This is a federal crime and can turn into much more of a headache than anyone is willing to deal with. There is not a statute of limitations on fraudulent enlistment especially if you are still serving. Also, lying on your medical documentation prevents medical experts from monitoring your conditions and treating you properly in the future should something happen.
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The Army Is Investigating How A 19
This article by Haley Britzky originally appeared on Task & Purpose, a digital news and culture publication dedicated to military and veterans issues.
The Army is investigating a situation surrounding a 19-year-old’s recruitment, including claims that his recruiter encouraged him to hide his autism diagnosis.
First reported by Army Times, Garrison Horsley and his father allege that an Army recruiter “encouraged him to hide potentially disqualifying factors in order to enlist as a human resources specialist.” Horsley has high-functioning autism and congenital arm disorder that limits the movement in his left arm, Army Times reports he was also being treated for “a mild episode of recurrent depressive disorder.”
According to the initial Army Times report “applicants with autism spectrum disorders are automatically disqualified, per Defense Department accession policy, though sometimes medical enlistment waivers are granted after a visit to a DoD behavioral health consultant.”
Lisa Ferguson, Army Recruiting Command spokeswoman, told Army Times that waivers are “considered on a case-by-case basis,” but that autism “isn’t something normally waived if the diagnosis was appropriately given.” Horsely said he received a waiver for his arm disorder, which leaves his left arm 50% weaker than his right.
“Does that disqualify me from the Army?” Horsley says in the text messages.
“Hey man just give me a call when you can,” Gaunya appears to respond.
More articles from Task & Purpose:
Recruit Diagnosed With Autism Returns Home Recruiter Removed From Duty
An Army recruit who had an autism diagnosis and anxiety medication prescription but was still sent to basic training, possibly against Army policy, has been returned home, while his recruiter has been removed from duty pending the final outcome of an investigation.
U.S. Army Recruiting Command confirmed that officials are conducting an investigation into whether the recruiter encouraged the recruit to conceal his autism diagnosis, which is considered high functioning, prior to arriving at Fort Jackson, South Carolina, on Aug. 20.
The day after the original Army Times story was published, a letter was sent from Fort Jacksons reception battalion to Rep. Mike Simpson, R-ID, stating that the 19-year-old recruit, Garrison Horsley, was receiving an administrative separation.
Horsleys father confirmed that his son has been returned to their hometown in Idaho, but does not intend to conduct any further interviews.
Army applicants with autism spectrum disorders are automatically disqualified, per Defense Department accession policy, though sometimes medical enlistment waivers are granted after a visit to a DoD behavioral health consultant, according to Lisa Ferguson, the chief spokeswoman for the services recruiting command.
All waivers are considered on a case-by-case basis, but generally speaking, autism isnt something normally waived if the diagnosis was appropriately given, Ferguson previously told Army Times.
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Autism Challenges For Teens
Children with autism may be nonverbal or chatty. They may do well in school or find it challenging. They may have extreme behaviors or none at all. But all children with autism have these challenges in common:
- Difficulty understanding and expressing themselves with spoken and body language
- Challenges with executive functioning
- Difficulty with “reading” and responding appropriately to social situations
- Lack of flexibility and preference for routine
Most children with autism also struggle with:
- Sensory challenges
- Delays in physical coordination and low muscle tone
- Learning disabilities
- Continued fascination with childish interests
Add to all of these issues the onset of puberty and physical changes, new academic and social challenges, and higher intellectual and social expectations, and it’s not surprising that the teenage years can be especially tough for kids on the autism spectrum.
Behavior Therapy For Autism In Military Families
With 1 in 88 military children having a diagnosis on the autism spectrum, it is important these families, with so many other pressures and sacrifices taking place from military life, get the help their children need.
Your donation provides Applied Behavior Analysis Therapy treatment for military children on the spectrum.
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Navys Adhd Policy For 2019
I spoke with a Navy recruiter via chat, and she told me that any history of ADHD after the age of 14 is disqualifying.
I asked her if there were any waivers or anything I could do, and she said: not at this time.
To confirm this, OMK spoke directly with a Navy recruiter at a recruiting office in Atlanta Georgia.
Heres what he had to say:
The Navys policy is that ADD /ADHD is a disqualifying factor. What needs to happen is the potential recruit would need to go see a specialist. Its sort of a gray area, and really depends on when the service person was diagnosed.
He referred me to the Navys literature on the guidance for various psychiatric disorders, which Navy psychiatrists use to determine if youre fit for service.
You can read the full document here.
Coast Guard Adhd Policy For 2019
We spoke with Petty Officer Devoir, a Coast Guard recruiter stationed in Sandy Springs, GA.
Heres what he had to say about ADHD:
The current policy that we have is that you must be off medication for at least 2 years. You must also get a letter from a doctor stating that you no longer suffer from ADHD or related symptoms.
At this time, the Coast Guard does not offer any waivers for ADHD as a condition.
He also noted that you cannot be on any medications like Adderall or Ritalin while serving.
Medical Conditions That Can Keep You From Joining The Military
Below, you will find details from the Army‘s “Standards of Medical Fitness.” These standards generally apply to all other branches as well. Remember that most of these conditions are not necessarily permanently disqualifying, but they are red flags.
If you have had a medical complication at any time in your life that is mentioned here, then you need to tell your recruiter. They will tell you whether your condition can be waived, or if it is permanently disqualifying. Remember that if you do not get an official waiver and your condition later is discovered, you most likely will be dishonorably discharged for fraudulent enlistment. The choice is yours.
How Does The Military Test For Mental Health Disorders
The military treats mental health very seriously and takes a rigid stance on enforcing disqualifications.
Military mental health disqualifications can prevent you from serving in the military.
The problem with many types of mental illness is that the diagnosis is highly subjective.
Furthermore, there are varying levels of anxiety disorders and depression.
For example, you may be aware that you struggle with anxiety yet be able to manage it without needing medication.
Meanwhile, another person may need medication to help keep anxiety and panic attacks from becoming too severe.
The military conducts a psychological evaluation during Military Entrance Processing Stations .
Dont take the psychological evaluation personally because every new recruit has to endure the same evaluation.
The military needs to determine if you have mental aptitude in addition to meeting physical fitness standards for enlistment.
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What About Alcohol Or Drug Abuse
A history of alcohol or drug dependence may disqualify you from military service.
The military carefully scrutinizes alcohol abuse or drug abuse that requires inpatient or outpatient care.
Problems with alcohol or drugs can become problematic during military service for several reasons.
It can also enhance or worsen symptoms of other, undiagnosed mental health conditions.
I’m Autistic And I Want To Serve In The Military
Serving in the military is both an honor and a service to those who volunteer in this great country of the the United States of America. Many potential volunteers are disqualified for various reasons. Thus the reason for my letter.
I am a 25-year-old man with a four year college degree in history from Stony Brook University, and I have autism. I have been rejected by the U.S. Army three times outright just from disclosing my diagnosis. I was also rejected by the U.S. Marine Corps twice after disclosing my medical records. I was never given the opportunity to take the ASVAB, nor was I given an opportunity to appeal the decision.
This is a personal fight for me but this is also a fight for other people with autism. For far too long our right to serve and fight has been denied on the grounds of our disorder, but we are so much more than that. We have served before and we continue to serve beneath the radar. I was even told by one of my recruiters to hide my diagnosis by not mentioning it. This is wrong. Just like ethnic minority and LGBT service members before us, we shouldnt have to hide who we are when serving.
That is why Im asking the U.S. government and military to make autism a potentially waiverable condition for military service. This waiver wont cover all people on the autism spectrum, nor should it because autism is a spectrum disorder. But those of us who can serve and want to serve should be able to do so.
Getty image by Niyazz.
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Can You Join The Army With A History Of Depression
Depression is a difficult mental health condition for anyone to figure out, much less the military.
The military currently has a broad definition of depression that doesnt cover its many facets.
Its still struggling to find out how to deal with the rising problem in the United States.
While in the past it was a disqualifier, most military branches are changing their stance on diagnosed examples.
Therefore, you may receive a waiver after the military examines your personal circumstances.
The military will study things like when you were diagnosed, current symptoms, if you take medication for your depression, and if youve received inpatient/outpatient care in the last year.