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Did you know dyslexia can be a disqualification for the military?


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#1 Renee in NC

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Posted 07 February 2010 - 11:07 AM

I was looking at the Coast Guard Academy website and it linked to common Dodmerb Disqualifications. I figured it must just be a CGA thing, but it seems it that it is military wide. Any diagnosis or intervention after the age of 12 is disqualifying, even for ENLISTMENT!?!?!

2–27. Learning, psychiatric and behavioral disorders
a. Attention Deficit Disorder/Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (314), or Perceptual/Learning Disorder(s)
(315) is disqualifying, unless applicant can demonstrate passing academic performance and there has been no use of
medication(s) in the previous 12 months.
b. Current or history of academic skills or perceptual defects (315) secondary to organic or functional mental
disorders, including, but not limited to dyslexia, that interfere with school or employment, are disqualifying. Applicants
demonstrating passing academic and employment performance without utilization or recommendation of academic and/
or work accommodations at any time in the previous 12 months may be qualified.


*sigh* This definitely makes me not get a diagnosis for my 11yo and to hurry up and get intervention for my 8yo. I don't want to risk their being denied if I can help it.

#2 Renee in NC

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Posted 07 February 2010 - 11:08 AM

I know that sometimes waivers are granted for enlistment, but it doesn't look like waivers are available for academies unless there are no instances after age 12.

#3 Ravin

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Posted 07 February 2010 - 11:22 AM

The honest reason for this is that most military positions require at least some formal classroom training, often quite a lot of it--and at a pace that precludes special accommodation. The military isn't an EOE.

That said, there are plenty of things that are don't ask, don't tell. My recruiter conveniently "forgot" to put on my record my hypothyroidism--I was re-diagnosed in boot camp, chastised that it could have kept me from enlisting if it had been known (and asked if I wanted an "out", which I didn't), and given medication and it was never an issue again. Somehow my seeing a psychologist for a while as a young teen never made it into the record, either. Whatever, it was hardly relevant to my ability to complete training and serve.

I'd say, what they want is demonstration that a recruit will be able to keep up without special attention. So being dyslexic or ADHD wouldn't be disqualifying, per se, so long as the individual can function well without medication and has developed study/compensation skills that let them keep up with neuro-typical peers without formal intervention or accommodation.

Academy disqualification also isn't necessarily a bar to service as an officer. ROTC programs commission more officers than the academies, after all.

#4 EKS

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Posted 07 February 2010 - 11:30 AM

I read the quote you included, and I understand it to be that they want people who demonstrate a certain level of academic aptitude *without* accommodations and they don't want people with ADHD to need medication to perform.

I'm assuming that all applicants are required to "demonstrate academic performance," not just people with LDs. Depending on the nature of the demonstration, if it requires speed, a kid with LDs will likely have trouble passing it, regardless of whether they've been identified or not.

I'm guessing the military has a reason for this. I'd be interested to know what it is.

#5 Ravin

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Posted 07 February 2010 - 11:41 AM

Minimum scores in various areas of the ASVAB exam are required for many schools/MOS's. For example, I think to be enlisted in the Navy Nuclear Power program, a score of 92 was required at the time I enlisted. This is a standardized exam, and is one of the things they look at, along with physical fitness, medical health, a clean criminal record, etc. etc. Some branches offer waivers for having a GED rather than a HS diploma, but not all.

I knew people who got into the Navy with low ASVAB scores. They were usually put in apprenticeship programs (as general airmen, seamen, or firemen), and had to either earn a spot in an "A" school through their job performance and willingness to re-enlist, or work their way up the ranks the hard way, getting good evals, completing on-the-job-training, and passing rating exams for a specialty they hadn't had formal schooling for. That route is limited, however, and growing more so as time goes on.

#6 Renee in NC

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Posted 07 February 2010 - 11:45 AM

I read the quote you included, and I understand it to be that they want people who demonstrate a certain level of academic aptitude *without* accommodations and they don't want people with ADHD to need medication to perform.

I'm assuming that all applicants are required to "demonstrate academic performance," not just people with LDs. Depending on the nature of the demonstration, if it requires speed, a kid with LDs will likely have trouble passing it, regardless of whether they've been identified or not.

I'm guessing the military has a reason for this. I'd be interested to know what it is.


I actually understand the reasoning behind it (what Ravin posted) but I had never thought of it being an issue before seeing this.

I knew about ADHD - this was discussed on this board (or the old board?) a couple of years ago. The deal was that any medication had to be stopped before 12 or a waiver would have to be applied for and that would require at least 12 months achievement with no interventions.

Now that I have thought about it more, I just need to be careful. My 11yo would be able to compensate - he is being remediated now and progressing pretty well. My 7yo and 8yo are the ones most likely to be military and have more severe LDs, but there is quite a bit of time between now and then.

I guess my initial reaction was shock because in the back of my mind I had always thought that the military was an easy option.

#7 Jan in SC

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Posted 07 February 2010 - 01:57 PM

We know someone that has recently been accepted into an Army ROTC program that pays for college, as well as grad school. I know this person is on meds for ADHD and has been diagnosed within the last two years.

This person doesn't have any LDs, though, so I'm not sure how helpful this info is! I'll be happy to ask the parent questions if you have any specific ones, though!

#8 LizzyBee

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Posted 07 February 2010 - 02:42 PM

I was looking at the Coast Guard Academy website and it linked to common Dodmerb Disqualifications. I figured it must just be a CGA thing, but it seems it that it is military wide. Any diagnosis or intervention after the age of 12 is disqualifying, even for ENLISTMENT!?!?!



*sigh* This definitely makes me not get a diagnosis for my 11yo and to hurry up and get intervention for my 8yo. I don't want to risk their being denied if I can help it.


I read it to say that waivers are granted if no accomodations were needed in the past 12 months. That is all the more reason to obtain diagnosis and intervention now, so that remediation can occur to the greatest extent possible and we can teach coping strategies for the rest. Diagnosis or accomodations after the age of 12 should not be a problem if accomodations were not needed in the 12 months prior to applying to the military, based on what was posted in the OP.

ETA: I've read the OP 3 times and still can't find any reference to age 12. Is there something else you read that listed age 12 as the cut off for eligibility irt ADHD or dyslexia?

Edited by LizzyBee, 07 February 2010 - 06:06 PM.


#9 Misty

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Posted 07 February 2010 - 03:19 PM

I'm guessing the military has a reason for this. I'd be interested to know what it is.


Being former military myself and a military wife now, I can see why the standards are so strict. If you do not show up for duty during a time of war, this can be punishable by death. I can see how someone with dyslexia might read the time on the schedule wrong and "miss the boat", especially if they were in a hurry or something. They have not put anyone to death for this offense since 1945, but it is still a possibility.. There would be a trial to see if the UA (or AWOL) was intentional or unintentional.. But still serious stuff.

The military relies on attention to detail. If they did not teach such strict attention to detail, people would die all the time, even during routine training exercises. The military HAS to have these strict standards if they are to stay safe. If someone showed up for watch duty at the wrong time, this could mean someone's life. Everyone has to stand watch in the military at some point in their enlistment, no matter what their job in the military (except officers usually). When I was in boot camp, I did not show up for watch duty one day because I forgot to check the watch duty times before we left for class that morning. I got the crap beat out of me for hours (through endless exercises)!!! Not fun! I'm not dyslexic so I have no idea how someone with dyslexia would fair in the military.. There are VERY rigorous classes to take, starting in boot camp. After boot camp, you go on to more schools with more rigorous classes, depending on which job you choose. Someone with dyslexia or learning disabilities or ADHD might have a hard time keeping up and there is no extra help, special ed teachers, or extra time, or IEP's or any of that stuff. If you fail out of your school, you get sent to an easier school. If you fail out of the easier school, you may end up kicked out of the military.

I have "issues" that were not diagnosed at the time of my enlistment and I definitely struggled, especially with the social aspect and interpretting certain phrases and situations. Sometimes I had no idea what was going on or where I was supposed to be. I have attention issues and auditory processing issues, but I've learned to compensate by doing extra reading in the evening, etc. But I definitely do not do well following verbal instruction so I would have been a liability in a time of war. I was only in the military for one year back in 1996-97 before I met my husband and started a family. We were not in a time of war then. I am thankful I got out when I did. At the time, I had no idea how serious my issues were.. I got by in school by compensating or just floating by under the radar with average grades. I always just thought I was a little slow or whatever. Had no idea my issues had a name until I had kids of my own.

Edited by Misty, 07 February 2010 - 03:35 PM.


#10 LizzyBee

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Posted 07 February 2010 - 03:59 PM

I'm not dyslexic so I have no idea how someone with dyslexia would fair in the military.. There are VERY rigorous classes to take, starting in boot camp.


Plenty of dyslexics are doctors, lawyers, engineers, architects, and any other profession you can think of. If they are remediated, they can succeed at whatever they set their heart and mind on. Many dyslexics who struggled in school soar as adults when they focus on using their strengths rather than their weaknesses. Since dyslexia often goes undiagnosed, I have no doubt that many dyslexics have been successful in the military. :-)

Edited by LizzyBee, 07 February 2010 - 06:04 PM.


#11 Renee in NC

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Posted 07 February 2010 - 07:26 PM

I read it to say that waivers are granted if no accomodations were needed in the past 12 months. That is all the more reason to obtain diagnosis and intervention now, so that remediation can occur to the greatest extent possible and we can teach coping strategies for the rest. Diagnosis or accomodations after the age of 12 should not be a problem if accomodations were not needed in the 12 months prior to applying to the military, based on what was posted in the OP.

ETA: I've read the OP 3 times and still can't find any reference to age 12. Is there something else you read that listed age 12 as the cut off for eligibility irt ADHD or dyslexia?


It was on the CGA Dodmerb link. (My cousin who just joined the Marines also was told that anything after age 12 "counted" and anything before did not.)

http://www.cga.edu/d...ay.aspx?id=2932

And waivers *may* be granted, but they don't have to be.

#12 LizzyBee

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Posted 07 February 2010 - 08:05 PM

It was on the CGA Dodmerb link. (My cousin who just joined the Marines also was told that anything after age 12 "counted" and anything before did not.)

http://www.cga.edu/d...ay.aspx?id=2932

And waivers *may* be granted, but they don't have to be.


Gotcha. I thought it was in the OP and I wasn't seeing it.

My kids are officially diagnosed with reading and writing disabilities rather than dyslexia. I was told that I could get a dyslexia diagnosis by having working brain scans done, but they're stressful and expensive. And the "treatment" would be the same, so there's no need educationally. I wonder if the military treats specific learning disabilities the same as a dyslexia diagnosis? Probably so, based on the wording in the link.

As long as you're homeschooling, you can make accomodations without keeping a record of it. That might be the best thing to do for your 11 yo if you want to keep the military option available. OTOH, if he would benefit from therapy outside the home, you need the diagnosis. This stuff is so hard!

Edited by LizzyBee, 07 February 2010 - 08:08 PM.


#13 chaik76

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Posted 07 February 2010 - 08:16 PM

Guess that's out for my son then! He's got ADHD and dyslexia!!!

#14 LizzyBee

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Posted 07 February 2010 - 09:20 PM

Guess that's out for my son then! He's got ADHD and dyslexia!!!


Is a military career something your son really wants? Do you think he can succeed without medication and accomodations in the future, if not now? If so, don't rule it out too soon. My youngest sister had two medical conditions that she had to get waivers for, but after a lot of paperwork and phone calls, she not only got into the Army, but got an ROTC scholarship for the remainder of her college years.

#15 Renee in NC

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Posted 08 February 2010 - 08:03 AM

Is a military career something your son really wants? Do you think he can succeed without medication and accomodations in the future, if not now? If so, don't rule it out too soon. My youngest sister had two medical conditions that she had to get waivers for, but after a lot of paperwork and phone calls, she not only got into the Army, but got an ROTC scholarship for the remainder of her college years.


That's really good to know, LizzyBee. Around here a military career (or at least one enlistment) is a good possibility, so I don't want to get in the way of that. My goal for all my dc is to have them enter their adult lives without medication or accomodations if at all possible by teaching coping strategies.

#16 chaik76

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Posted 08 February 2010 - 01:03 PM

Is a military career something your son really wants? Do you think he can succeed without medication and accomodations in the future, if not now? If so, don't rule it out too soon. My youngest sister had two medical conditions that she had to get waivers for, but after a lot of paperwork and phone calls, she not only got into the Army, but got an ROTC scholarship for the remainder of her college years.

He's only eight, lol! He has lots of time to decide and prepare if it's something he wants to go into...we're working on helping him to be able to use all of his talents and strengths, and working on the weaknesses. He's working on ADHD issues and it's perfectly possible that he'll have been off meds for years by then. Who knows?

I'll support him and encourage him if wants a military career (right now he wants to be anthropologist) but I'm a pacifist, so I have no vested interest in him entering the armed forces! I admire and respect those who follow their beliefs and do so, though.

#17 Catherine

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Posted 09 February 2010 - 11:03 AM

went off meds late in high school. He was not accepted, but then spent a year at a military boarding school and reapplied, and got into West Point. I assume enlistment is easier to get into. But, he is not dyslexic, only ADD.

#18 mchel210

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Posted 10 February 2010 - 09:59 AM

So...the only something like dysgraphia or add wouldnt disqualify kids if they had NO academic delays? Very interesting.

My son is in Civil Air patrol and doing very well. He has accommodations on his IEP for longer test time or small setting. It has been there since 1st grade. I think it states he has an occupational therapist as well...but he is going to update the IEP on the 19th. I wonder if I should remove all of that! I NEVER imagined that would be held against his application in the miliary! I have him in ALL regular classes this year. (Just started last week) It states he has ADHD but he only has ADD and hasnt been on meds since 5th grade. He did a year of grief counseling and behavior modification for the add. BUT...he is very calm and focused now on his work. Now in 8th. He is doing very well with CAP and they have never stated he wouldnt be able to join air force. I was thinking if he continued and did very well with CAP he can use that rank advancement towards enlisting and they have less reason to deny him?

At least that is my thought.

At birth he had a small hole in his heart and the cardiologist told me 2 years ago it closed. This year I went again and he said it is super tiny and he can hardly see it. I did put it on his forms for medical on the Civil air patrol papers..but no one has mentioned a thing. He has no limitations due to that. I hope they dont count that! :confused: He has his heart set on only going into the military.

He also is starting honors classes next year so I am hoping he is able to do those without accommodations. That would look much better for the military!

Edited by mchel210, 10 February 2010 - 10:02 AM.


#19 zootle

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Posted 11 February 2010 - 07:52 PM

I had never thought of this. My non-verbal learning disabled boy with dyslexia wants to be a Navy Seal someday. He was labeled with some reading disability non-specified when he was 12. I wonder if that is going to be a problem. I think I will show him these posts to motivate him to try to improve his reading comprehension. My asking him to do it isn't overly motivating, but the military asking him to do it might be.
Cindy

#20 scrapbookbuzz

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Posted 23 May 2010 - 02:00 AM

**Too tired, evidently, to post coherent thoughts, so never mind.** :^)

Edited by scrapbookbuzz, 23 May 2010 - 02:05 AM.



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