My friend Neil P. was born in India. At a couple years old, his amazing parents – who couldn’t have children of their own – found him riding a wheeled board, the victim of Polio. They adopted him, making him the 9th child they’d rescued from 3rd world dumps, bound for a life of good old-fashioned Americana. They lived on a 160 Acre farm in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.
Neil’s parents did everything they could to make his life as ‘normal’ as possible. He used forearm crutches to move around, because of the damage polio had done to his legs. His parents bought accessories which allowed him to drive their minivan. They bought his goalie gear so he could play hockey, and what an amazing goalie, he was. I swear to you, what polio took from his legs, his parents reinvested in his spirit. Their love and sacrifice made him into an amazing, strong, honorable individual and a proud American.
When I enlisted in the military, Neil longed, with phantom nostalgia, for an opportunity to serve of country, as well. He has always harbored a deep love for the America his parents so-lovingly shared with him. Serving was not an option, because he was disabled. He went to college instead, and became a Park Ranger for the Nat’l Park Service.
I have always been of a mind that we should make non-combat roles available to those with disabilities. Now, it’s looking like that idea may just become a reality.
I saw the topic on Rally Point and was surprised at the amount of disapproval I saw from the all-veteran crowd who populates the site. While many of their concerns are legitimate, I think the opportunity could be viable, if it’s done right, using reason as our guide.
With that, I offer some of the issues for you to chew on. Please think about it and let me know what you think:
- The job of the military is to fight and win wars, not “to be fair” or “provide opportunities”.
- Non-combat roles don’t “fight wars”, they support them.
- Ostensibly, every troop should be able to pick up a rifle and fight the enemy.
- People are kicked out for being out of shape (not meeting the physical requirements) every day.
- Do we allow a person who is 500lbs to enlist, because he or she is “disabled”?
- Those who wish to serve their country have countless other avenues available to do so.
- Those disabled in-service, are allowed to continue their service, in an MOS which accommodates them.
- A separate class of standards will be created to accommodate these individuals.
- The possibility of preference becomes an issue when evaluating for promotions.
- How do you reconcile the incompatible standards for review & promotion?
- If you receive the same pay, you should meet the same requirements.
Please, think about this and let us all know what you think.