20. May 2006 · Comments Off on 10 Minutes to Wapner · Categories: General

The latest event to tarnish recruiting and paint everyone with a very broad bush was the recent enlistment of an autistic man into the Army. There is an investigation currently going on involving the recruiters and the station involved. As usual for events like this though the recruiters are judged guilty by people not familar with the system. Recruiters do stupid things, and if these recruiters did actually commit an impropriety I’m sure they will be punished. But this is a situation where the recruiters are probably going to be hurt a lot worse than those above them.

By all accounts Mr. Guinther looks normal, and when they describe how it is to talk with him he doesn’t seem any different from any random, shy, awkward teenager. He’s also graduating with a regular, not a special ed, high school diploma and he passed the ASVAB with a 43. A 43 is pretty close to average on the ASVAB, and in the future when the next guy I meet gets a 17 on the ASVAB or EST I will tell them that an autistic kid more than doubled their score. The medical pre-screening is self-revealing. If the kid doesn’t put down that he’s autistic the recruiter won’t know. Maybe you’d think “the boy’s not right” when talking to him, but, again, he doesn’t seem to be someone who is obviously handicapped.

The fact Mr. Guinther was ASVAB’d, and went through the physical where he was seen by a couple of doctors and nurses, and none of them DQ’d him says something. The recruiters didn’t get this kid through phys. The kid got himself through phys. I’ve seen applicants DQ’d for heavy menstrual flow, being lactose intollerant, asthma when 6 years old, and I’ve heard of applicants being DQ’d for excessive acne and man-boobs. The doctors at MEPS are there to keep people who are unqualified form joining, obviously they didn’t see anything wrong with this kid.

The recruiters are going to take the punishment for this. They’re the ones who apparently turned squirelly when confronted. The old saw about the cover-up not the crime applies in recruiting too. But the media coverage of this, as it being a symptom of a corrupt, broken force looking to fraudlently enlist anyone for the machine, isn’t accurate. There is no attempt by any story to look at this from the perspective of the recruiter. Jared Guinther doesn’t walk around with a giant tattoo on his head saying “Autistic” and his brother isn’t driving him around.

It’s for the best that Guinther isn’t going to be shipping. But recruiting as a whole is going to suffer for this mistake, and it’s being unjustly used as an excuse to score political points. The coverage demonstrates to me the broad disconnect between the need for a reporter to say their bit in a 5 paragraph space, and the intricacies of a complex process like putting someone into the Army. That disconnect exists anytime something complex or involved is reported, but this time it affects my sphere of influence.

Oh well, hope everyone has a good weekend.

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