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Ear to the Ground

Army Recruits Teen Despite His Autism

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Posted on May 9, 2006
Austistic teen Jared Guinther
Benjamin Brink / Newshouse News

Jared Guinther of Portland, Ore., in his room doing what he loves —playing guitar. The Army signed up the 18-year-old despite his autism.

The youth is signed up for dangerous front-line service, but did not even know there was a war going on until last fall—after he was approached by the recruiter. An internal Army investigation is underway, but such recruiting abuses are systemic. (Via Bring It On!)


Newhouse News:

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.

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By Richard Swayne, March 4, 2007 at 11:08 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Mr Kruse, now you know you have Autism, I take it they will never recall you to duty. If anyone was diagnosed with Autism in the service, would they be medically discharged?

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By Gary, January 2, 2007 at 8:59 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

This is pretty disturbing.  It makes you wonder how many other kids are in the armed services that don’t belong there.  Having autism and being in combat can get this young man killed, along with others.  However, I seriously doubt he would have ever seen any action….his disorder would have been recognized in basic training and addressed before he was ever sent off to a combat zone.

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By Aaron Redmen, November 28, 2006 at 1:39 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Guess I never had autism but was just slow and put in special ed.
I passed my AFABT with a 21 and had to get a waiver (big red “W” on 201 file jacket)
The only MOS I could get with a waiver was 11B Infantry at Ft Benning Ga.
The Army sent me to special classes before basic to help study for GED, which I passed with flying colors.
In basic, almost half my platoon had special ed certificates instead of high school diplomas but we all made it passed basic and AIT.

Two of the three drill sergeant were cool with us waivers and took time outside of training to help us with questions about what we had to read and stuff.

But Jared Guinther needs to be let out of his contract.
Cavalry scouts have a very dangerous job were you have to be mentally alert at all times.
If he lives in his own private world and has problems making friends.
That would make him a danger to himself in combat and to his unit!!

The army should have made him a cook or better yet just gave him a free pen and leave him alone.

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By Michael, October 25, 2006 at 2:12 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I am Autistic. I agree with the above comment. If he is not accepted by his fellow soldiers they would see him as a liability and be used as a pawn and get killed.

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By Gregory L. Kruse, May 10, 2006 at 10:15 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I’m autistic and was drafted in 1966 during the height of the Vietnam war.  I was a good soldier, and did whatever I was ordered to do.
I was willing to go to war on the front lines if so ordered.  This is no different than any other soldier.  What is different is the autistic person’s inability to bond normally with his “buddies”.  They could consider him a liability in combat.  He would likely be one of the first soldiers killed in action.  It would seem to me bad policy to recruit autistic people for combat duty.

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By Bill, May 9, 2006 at 7:00 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

There’s and old saying…........If you want something fouled up let the gov’t do it for nobody has the expeierence that they do and they’ll do a fine job course it’ll cost the tax payers alot of money for their blunders but being sheep since 2000 has what’s got us in the position we’re in now ans have been in since 2000 wake up america and stop being sheep….............Bill…....

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By Sharon Faulk, May 9, 2006 at 4:59 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

What?!

And lately I have been thinking I am blessed with 2 boys who will never have to worry about going to war or the draft. THAT is nuts!

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By D.Vanderdonck, May 9, 2006 at 12:12 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Someone better check into Autism in the Arm forces.  There isn’t amy way this young man could
take on the responsibility he has been assigned.

As a grandmother of two Autistic grandchildren
I know what this is about.

There may be jobs that a young man with this disability could handle, but it would depend on
the severity of the disability.

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