Army Recruits Autistic Man

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Jared Guinther, 18, was diagnosed at three with moderate to severe autism. He doesn’t speak unless spoken to and has been enrolled in special education his entire life. Yet he was recently permitted to enlist in the U.S. Army as a cavalry scout—widely considered the army’s most dangerous job because of its frequent engagement with the enemy using “anti-armor weapons and scout vehicles.” And despite the fact that he was completely unaware of the war in Iraq until last fall, he enlisted when approached by a military recruiter and offered a “$4,000 signing bonus, $67,000 for college and more buddies than he could count.”

His story draws attention to the surge in recruiting improprieties over the last several years. Its possible that recruiters concealed Guinther’s disability in hopes of meeting their enlistment targets. According to The Oregonian, Maj. Curt Steinagel, commander of the Military Entrance Processing Station in Portland, said the papers filled out by Jared’s recruiters contained no indication of his disability. “I can’t speak for Army,” he said, “but it’s no secret that recruiters stretch and bend the rules because of all the pressure they’re under. The problem exists, and we all know it exists.”

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DEMOCRACY DOES NOT EXIST...

without free and fair elections, a vigorous free press, and engaged citizens to reclaim power from those who abuse it.

In this election year unlike any other—against a backdrop of a pandemic, an economic crisis, racial reckoning, and so much daily crazy—Mother Jones' journalism is driven by one simple question: Will America will move closer to, or further from, justice and equity in the years to come?

If you're able to, please join us in this mission with a donation today. Our reporting right now is focused on voting rights and election security, corruption, disinformation, racial and gender equity, and the climate crisis. We can’t do it without the support of readers like you, and we need to give it everything we've got between now and November. Thank you.

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