Navy rescinds student's ROTC scholarship because of autism

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Double Retired
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19 Jun 2021, 6:21 pm

"Navy rescinds student's ROTC scholarship because of his autism diagnosis"

Note: ROTC is Reserve Officers' Training Corps. While attending college the student takes ROTC classes to prepare them to be an officer in the U.S. military. When they graduate college they are commissioned as military officers--with a military service commitment. Not all ROTC students have a scholarship, but they still take the classes to prepare to be a military officer.


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22 Jun 2021, 8:36 am

WUSA9 TV

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Doctors diagnosed Tory Ridgeway with autism when he was just 4 years old. He says since then, he spends every day proving people wrong.

"The past 14 years can basically be summarized as doing everything people thought I wouldn't be able to do," said Ridgeway.

He became an Eagle Scout at just 14 years old and graduated from Northern High School in Calvert County this month with a 4.9 GPA. He was also accepted to Embry-Riddle Aeornautical University on a full Navy ROTC scholarship to study aerospace engineering.
Joining the military and working on planes has always been a dream of his. He used to watch his dad work after school some days at Joint Base Andrews

The Navy cited Tory's autism diagnosis as a reason for the denial. A diagnosis he was upfront about throughout his entire application. In fact, it was the focus of his admissions essay.
"He talked about how proud he was of all of his accomplishments as a child of autism," said his mom, Vanessa Ridgeway.

The ROTC acceptance letter says the scholarship is contingent on several things, including being medically qualified. After the Navy received his medical records, they denied him, citing his autism.

"It's very difficult to just find something else when you've spend two-thirds of your life going for something and then right when you have it in your hand, it's yanked away from you," said Tory Ridgeway.

Vanessa Ridgeway says she is trying to understand the disconnect. Why they would admit him, knowing his diagnosis, only to reject him in the end.

Navy spokesperson Phillip Chitty told WUSA9 the Navy was not able to comment on the situation. But the uniformed service does have its medical standards policy online.

That policy has a rule that automatically disqualifies anyone with autism. A rule that the Ridgeway family says they knew about. But that policy goes on to say that applicants who don't meet the criteria can be considered for a medical waiver.

"So what do we do as parents, tell them not to go after their dream? It's like a double-edged sword," said Vanessa Ridgeway.

Tory will still attend Embry Riddle University in the Fall. He and his parents are hopeful it will be with the ROTC program.


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22 Jun 2021, 8:43 am

Quote:
... the uniformed service does have its medical standards policy online.  That policy has a rule that automatically disqualifies anyone with autism.  A rule that the Ridgeway family says they knew about.  But that policy goes on to say that applicants who don't meet the criteria can be considered for a medical waiver.
This all comes down to a few basic facts:

1. The standards for military service are on public display.
2. People with autism are disqualified from military service.
3. The family knew about these standards before Mr. Ridgeway tried to enlist.
4. While a waiver is possible, Mr. Ridgeway did not meet the criteria.

Since the military has rescinded Mr. Ridgeway's ROTC scholarship, it is unlikely to admit him into the ROTC program.


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22 Jun 2021, 9:08 am

Fnord wrote:
Quote:
... the uniformed service does have its medical standards policy online.  That policy has a rule that automatically disqualifies anyone with autism.  A rule that the Ridgeway family says they knew about.  But that policy goes on to say that applicants who don't meet the criteria can be considered for a medical waiver.
This all comes down to a few basic facts:

1. The standards for military service are on public display.
2. People with autism are disqualified from military service.
3. The family knew about these standards before Mr. Ridgeway tried to enlist.
4. While a waiver is possible, Mr. Ridgeway did not meet the criteria.

Since the military has rescinded Mr. Ridgeway's ROTC scholarship, it is unlikely to admit him into the ROTC program.

Another fact is that President Biden as Commander in Chief can rescind the assume autistic people can’t be soldiers unless proven otherwise policy.

I wonder how many waivers have actually been given to autistic recruits and how does that compare with other disabilities.

For those members who do not know Fnord is proof that it is possible for an autistic person to serve in the Navy.


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22 Jun 2021, 9:22 am

While Mr. Biden could endorse such a waiver, his endorsement is not necessary.  My own waivers were endorsed by a Chief Petty Officer (E7) at the recruitment center where I signed up.

Of course Mr. Ridgeway must petition through appropriate military channels before a waiver can even be considered.  Appealing to popular opinion through the Media will likely lessen his chances of receiving such a waiver, however.


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22 Jun 2021, 9:48 am

Fnord wrote:
While Mr. Biden could endorse such a wa, his endorsement is not necessary.  My own waivers were endorsed by a Chief Petty Officer (E7) at the recruitment center where I signed up.

Of course Mr. Ridgeway must petition through appropriate military channels before a waiver can even be considered.  Appealing to popular opinion through the Media will likely lessen his chances of receiving such a waiver, however.


Thanks for the clarification.

Appealing to public opinion is why the ban on openly LGBTQ soldiers was lifted ten years ago and why President Biden lifted the ban on transgender soldiers this year.


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22 Jun 2021, 11:25 am

ASPartOfMe wrote:
Appealing to public opinion is why the ban on openly LGBTQ soldiers was lifted ten years ago and why President Biden lifted the ban on transgender soldiers this year.
It is fair to mention that while I made it through 6 years of military service, I did not know at the time that I had anything even remotely related to autism, so an autistic equivalent of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" would have worked in my favor.  I was just "that weird guy" who enjoyed the structured routine and taking the advancement exams.

Eventually, the ban on people with high-functioning autism should be eliminated.  Time will tell...


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22 Jun 2021, 12:05 pm

While on the one hand it is unfortunate that the military has a reductionistic view of autism, which as all of us here know, can vary widely in type and severity of dysfunction, still on the other hand we all know autistic people who should never had their hands on a gun, let alone get sniper training.

Maybe the medical establishment needs to redefine our syndromes to clarify this sort of thing. Although the medical establishment doesn't move very quickly, it's probably quicker than the military establishment.


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22 Jun 2021, 12:08 pm

Rather than banning labels just set a bar everyone has to reach including ability to follow instructions work as a team and cognitive ability regardless of gender, race or neurological condition that’s the fairest way.



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27 Jun 2021, 5:07 am

Fnord wrote:
2. People with autism are disqualified from military service.


I thought you served in the navy Fnord?



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27 Jun 2021, 10:32 am

carlos55 wrote:
Rather than banning labels just set a bar everyone has to reach including ability to follow instructions work as a team and cognitive ability regardless of gender, race or neurological condition that’s the fairest way.

Most fair yes but not most efficient. It's far more efficient to just ban someone who ticks certain boxes. Nobody said life was going to be fair.

This is the sort of thing that to get fairness, or let's say to get equity, there has to be a politically active effort. How did gays and trans people get the right to serve, or for that matter the right to marry? How did women get the right not only to serve in active duty, but recently even to go into combat (which is necessary to advance in rank)? Massive organizing effort, that's how. This might take a lawsuit, or congressional hearings, lobbying, petitions, marches, whatever. The problem is, these are hard things for autistic people to throw together. And it takes years, even decades.


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27 Jun 2021, 10:35 am

cyberdad wrote:
Fnord wrote:
2. People with autism are disqualified from military service.


I thought you served in the navy Fnord?

He didn't know he was autistic when he served. I've known several older gentlemen who served reliably with autism - because they didn't know at the time that they had autism. Aspergers or ASD-1 didnt even exist when they were of the age to serve in the military.


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27 Jun 2021, 10:38 am

BeaArthur wrote:
cyberdad wrote:
Fnord wrote:
2. People with autism are disqualified from military service.
I thought you served in the navy Fnord?
He didn't know he was autistic when he served. I've known several older gentlemen who served reliably with autism - because they didn't know at the time that they had autism. Aspergers or ASD-1 didnt even exist when they were of the age to serve in the military.
Confirmed. My diagnosis came more than a decade after earning an honorable discharge.


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28 Jun 2021, 11:00 am

BeaArthur wrote:
He didn't know he was autistic when he served. I've known several older gentlemen who served reliably with autism - because they didn't know at the time that they had autism. Aspergers or ASD-1 didnt even exist when they were of the age to serve in the military.
I'm an older gentleman who served honorably (and reliably) with Autism--without knowing I had it. My active duty was before 1994, that is, before Asperger's Syndrome was added to the DSM. And I was diagnosed in 2018, at the age of 64, long after meeting military medical requirements was an issue for me.

I don't think knowing I had Autism would've changed my ability to do my job in the military. I was a bit odd but they didn't throw me out for it.

DOD Instruction 6130.03, Medical Standards for Appointment, Enlistment, or Induction into the Military Services, suggests waivers are possible. I hope he gets one.


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28 Jun 2021, 11:28 am

I actually enjoyed the structure and routine of military life.


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30 Jun 2021, 3:50 pm

Fnord wrote:
I actually enjoyed the structure and routine of military life.


That's very interesting sir, as you served during a time; prior, to your diagnosis. :salut: :wtg:


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