Can Individuals With Dyslexia Join US Military?

If you are interested in joining the US military, there is a process for you to go through. There are some requirements that soldiers must meet before they become part of the military, such as the age requirement, physical requirements, and educational background. To what extent can Learning disabled individuals cope with these requirements?

Many athletes proved that learning difficulties may not hamper physical abilities. Along with enhancing interviewing, and physical attributes the insights provided in this article can help you to better judge if a person is fit for the military. Also, aspirants can look into ensuring the strategies provided improve their chances.  

Joining the military- What attributes are needed?

According to the official website of the US Military, All six branches of US military service – Army, Navy, Air Force, Coast Guard, Marine Corps, and Space Force have similar requirements. However, the main differences can be in age limits, test scores, and fitness levels. Men and women require different fitness standards. A person must be at least 17 to enlist in any branch of the active military. 

1. Educational & testing requirements for enlisting.

  1. You have to go through ASVAB which is an acronym for Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery test which has 10 subsets. Your scores are based on the four subsets that make up your Armed Forces Qualification Test (AFQT) score. The cutoff for each branch is different. This score determines your eligibility to join a particular branch. 
  2. You must have a high school diploma or GED to enlist. 
  3. You must pass a military entrance medical exam. This includes a physical exam, hearing vision test, hearing test, and height and weight measurements.

2.Domicile requirement

1. Citizenship of the USA 

2. Resident Alien- If you have US PR/ Green Card & English Proficiency

Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 prevents the federal government of the US from complying with disability law based on its fundamental definition of “employer.”

Hence, Dyslexics can apply for military posts if they comply with the requirements and go through the defined procedure. 

Are dyslexics eligible for the military?

With learning disorders, aspirants are often confused about whether they are eligible for positions like the U.S military. While some examples of officers with Dyslexia provide hope to these individuals.  it is important to understand on what basis the military considers candidates with histories of Dyslexia.  

In a 2018 report of Medical Standards for Military Service, the provisions related to IEP, 504 plan, and Dyslexia are clearly mentioned. Here, let us check out these postulates:

  • A candidate will not be eligible to enter the Military if they have a history of Dyslexia after their 14th birthday. This point also applies to those who take IEP and 504 plans.
  • A candidate with a history of Dyslexia with support of IEP or 504 before 14 is eligible to enter. These candidates can attend entrance tests as others. 

Along these lines, it may not be appropriate to suggest that all Dyslexics are eligible for the military. But. those who can manage without any supporting plans after their 14th birthday can apply. 

People with dyslexia in the military- Here is a real-life example

LTC. Taylor V. Beattie is a retired US Army Special Forces officer and is serving as a leadership, training, and educational consultant. As a Green Beret, he has participated in 53 countries on five continents. He has dyslexia and has a degree in Anthropology.  He was diagnosed as dyslexic in Grade 1. 

With his constant practice and under his teacher’s mentorship, he defeated the challenge, partnered with dyslexia for his entire life, and served in the US military. He states, “In graduate school, I was forced to confront my dyslexia, and with that came the understanding that much of what I have accomplished in life was not in spite of dyslexia, but because of it. Dyslexia provided cognitive gifts hidden in plain sight.”

Attributes of dyslexics- And their effect on military skills

Even though learning disabled people have a set of common attributes, their abilities to cope with the military are often subjective due to variations in these levels.  Here are some crucial areas that one can analyze to come to appropriate conclusions:

1. High-Level Reasoning- They Master it!

In the ASVAB military exams, questions are asked on the basis of High-Level reasoning. Research by Chathu Kanangara shows that people with Dyslexia have high levels of reasoning. These inferences were derived from a test made on Dyslexic Adolescents to reconstruct a 3-D house. 

2. Visual perception skills- And clear edge 

Visual perceptual skills encompass a variety of abilities required for interpreting and comprehending visual information, including visual-spatial, visual evaluation, and visual-motor integration. There are many tasks in the military that require visual perceptual skills like visualizing a target at a specific angle or a 3D object. According to Chathu Kanangara, people with dyslexia possess a good visual perception.2.

3. Resilience- The attribute to manage

The ability to tolerate and get aligned to the goals is often a product of experience and patience. These attributes are subjective. Nonetheless, often facing some odds in real life, the learning disabled can have a better ability to manage resilience. 

The International Dyslexia Association shows that dyslexics have better determination and resilience due to their academic and psychological struggle with their condition. This helps them to fight against all the odds and adverse conditions since they are already psychologically strong. 

4. IQ and other abilities- Overshadowed by phonological awareness?

Dyslexic people are often considered with lesser IQ, which is not true at all. These people often demonstrate average to above-average intelligence. While they may take some time to grasp, this attribute can create some gap between their abilities and performance. 

People with dyslexia in the military- Strategies that assist!

The above set of traits may show that Dyslexics can cope with positions in the Military. Nonetheless, there are few other places where enhancement may be needed. Here we came up with working strategies that can take you closer to your aspiring military position:

  • Ensure NO excuses. Be it a special aspirant or any others, it is common to come up with some excuses to show up. This should be a clear No to start with. Striving and putting effort constantly can take them closer to the goal. Also, after turning into a military officer, there is no place for excuses from subordinates.  Ensuring the appropriate attitude right from the preparation stage can assist later in the workplace too.
  • Exercising better spatial abilities can resolve multiple complications. It is observed that learning disabilities are often linked to spatial aberrations. Nonetheless, combining multiple learning styles and also opting for relevant games and activities can assist in developing these abilities.
  • Ole Boe marked Social Skills as one of the 12 attributes of military officers. Social skills can be addressed by making a habit of interacting. Also, aspirants may look into some interesting activities as a part of their preparation.
  • As a responsible military officer, one may need to organize multiple tasks at a time; this may stimulate them to have better executive functions. While these may be questionable in the learning disabled, making sure of certain strategies like tools and resources can help them to come up effortlessly. 
  • Attention and focus is often important to locate an enemy and track their moves. Frith marks that Dyslexia is related and often coexists with attention deficits. Ensuring to include brain breaks and opting mind-sharpening games can help in better focus. 

So the verdict is…

Dyslexia is one of four SpLD which is recognized by the armed forces. However, this doesn’t act as a bar to recruitment or service in the Armed Forces, as long as all necessary recruitment, training, and job performance standards are fulfilled. These disabilities are viewed by armed forces as naturally occurring differences in learning that can be mitigated through targeted support and the implementation of coping strategies. 

If a candidate needs an IEP or any other supporting plan even after their 14th birthday to assist their academics, then the answer is NO. But if they cope with these shortcomings, there is no prohibition. One can apply, clear all standard procedures and join their dream job. People like LTC. Taylor V. Beattie set an example for all aspiring candidates.

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