US Army Recruits Autistic Teen For Most Dangerous Job


Feb 26, 2004
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Just when you think the U.S. Army recruiting has sunken as low as it can...

Here's a link to the story:

Pentagon records show that complaints about recruiting improprieties are on pace to reach record highs set in 2003 and 2004. As Army struggles to recruit, abuses mount
Autistic teen signs up for most dangerous job

Newhouse News Service

PORTLAND, Ore. — Jared Guinther is 18. Tall and lanky, he will graduate from high school in June. Girls think he's cute, until they try to talk to him and he stammers or just stands there — silent.

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 Portland strip mall and complimented 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 had not only enlisted, but 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 a U.S. Army Recruiting Station in Portland improperly concealed Jared's disability, which should have made him ineligible for service.

What happened to Jared is a growing national problem as the military faces increasing pressure to hit recruiting targets during an unpopular war.

Tracking by the Pentagon shows that complaints about recruiting improprieties are on pace to again reach record highs set in 2003 and 2004. Both the active Army and Reserve missed recruiting targets last year, and reports of recruiting abuses continue from across the country.

Violations such as these forced the Army to halt recruiting for a day last May so recruiters could be retrained and reminded of the job's ethical requirements.

The Portland Army Recruiting Battalion Headquarters opened its investigation into Jared's case last week after his parents called the Oregonian and the newspaper began asking 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. Steinagel acknowledged that the current climate is tough on recruiters.

"I can't speak for Army," he said, "but it's no secret that recruiters stretch and bend the rules because of all the pressure they're under. The problem exists, and we all know it exists."


Jared lives with his parents in a tiny brown house in southeast Portland.

Paul Guinther, 57, labors 50- to 60-hour weeks as a painter-sandblaster at a tug and barge works. His wife, Brenda, 50, has the graveyard housekeeping shift at a medical center.

The couple got together almost 16 years ago when Jared was 3. Brenda, who had two young children of her own, immediately noticed that Jared was different and pushed Paul to have the boy tested.

Doctors diagnosed him with moderate to severe autism. Jared, whose recent verbal IQ tested very low, spent years in special education classes. It was only as 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 Guinther phoned her two brothers, both veterans. She said they laughed and told her not to worry. The military would never take Jared.

The Guinthers, meanwhile, tried to refocus their son.

They thought it had worked until five weeks ago. Brenda Guinther said she called Jared on his cell phone to check what time he'd be home.

"I said, 'Jared, what are you doing?' 'I'm taking the test,' he said, the entrance test. I go, 'Wait a minute. Who's giving you the test?' He said, 'Corporal.' I said, 'Well let me talk to him.' "

Brenda Guinther said she spoke to Cpl. Ronan Ansley and explained that Jared had a disability, autism. She said Ansley told her he had been in special classes, too — for dyslexia.

"I said, 'Wait a minute, there's a big difference between autism and your problem,' " Brenda said.

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.

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 lowest grade the Army allows for enlistment, military officials said.

Next Brenda Guinther asked to speak with Ansley's supervisor; she got Sgt. Alejandro Velasco.

She said she begged Velasco to review Jared's medical and school records. He declined, she said, asserting that he didn't need any paperwork.

"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.' "


If her son Matthew had enlisted, Brenda Guinther said, she "wouldn't like it, but I would learn to live with it because I know he would understand the consequences."

Steinagel, the processing station commander, told the Oregonian that none of Jared's paperwork indicated he was autistic. If it had, he said, Jared almost certainly would have been disqualified.

On Tuesday, a reporter visited the Army Recruiting Station at the Eastport Plaza Shopping Center, where Velasco said he had not been told about Jared's autism.

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.

With the Guinthers' permission, the Oregonian faxed Jared's medical records to the Army Recruiting Battalion commander Lt. Col. David Carlton in Portland, who on Wednesday ordered the investigation.
well, for one it's an extremely important and dangerous job. one of the job requirements is "being in top physical and mental shape for this job is crucial." plus, as the article states, "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..."
Lord Siva said:
As long as he can kill people why not.

Because theres something called basic training. If he cant talk to people there is no way he is going to make it 3 days in basic. If youve never been in the military as an enlisted person theres no way you can know what its like. He would never make it out of there and more then likely never be the same once he washed out, not in a good way either.
It's not like the kids gonna make it past basic training.
I'm trying to find a picture of this kid...


in front of a tank.

Mine Detector.

First U.S. Kamikaze trooper
Lord Siva said:
It's not like the kids gonna make it past basic training.

Why waste the money to do this then? Why put him in this scenerio from the start? This was a recruiters attempt to bolster his numbers, which happens far too often.
This is some pretty ****ed up **** right here.
Lord Siva said:
It's not like the kids gonna make it past basic training.

yeah, but what does this say about the recruitment process if they didn't even recognize his disability, or didn't care?

hell, lyndi england was diagnosed as partially ******ed, wasn't she?
There is a difference between being ******ed and being autistic.

That being said however, he'd probably have trouble if he can't interact with people well.
Leto Atrides said:
There is a difference between being ******ed and being autistic.

That being said however, he'd probably have trouble if he can't interact with people well.

there's definitely a difference, but it doesn't bode well for the military to recruit someone like this and then place him in that kind of role.
i guess the recruit just got released from duty. at least they corrected their mistake, but they still look foolish.

(So, yeah, this is pretty well on the despicable side for the recruiters.)

:o I don't know anyone in the military in Middle East right now but i wouldn't want them to rely on a autistic person to save the if something bad happens
I automatically thought of Forrest Gump when I saw this.
Soldier: Can you see anyone?
Austitic kid: Yes. Theyre going to ambush us.
Soldier: Crap,we're trapped.Why didn't you tell me sooner?
Austitic Kid: You didn't ask me.
It wouldn't be the first time something like this happened.:O

Wow this is interesting. It really gives new meaning to "maximizing talents". Military schools are there to give the students the best possible all-round education, to prepare them for college entry and to give them a strong sense of self-confidence and self-esteem. Because of this, one thing is certain; if your kid is suitable for a military school environment and if he is accepted and works hard, he will do well in his future studies and career. Click this link to read more.
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Well the army did recruit a frail, polio-stricken weakling for something dangerous called Operation Super Soldier.

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