What about Americans with Disabilities in the Military?

George H.W. Bush signs ADA

Policy changes opened or widened the door to military service this year, to wide acclaim in the news media.  Women will be allowed to serve in combat roles, and people will not be dismissed or barred from military service on the basis of homosexuality.

I was really surprised to find that the Americans With Disabilities Act, granting a variety of rights to people with disabilities, isn’t yet activated for the U.S. military.  Deaf people are automatically excluded from any military service — even in the 80% of non-combat positions.

ROTC Cadet Keith Nolan makes a compelling case

Anyone in the military needs to qualify for the position they are seeking. Opening combat positions to women gave them the right to try — but doesn’t guarantee that they will attain the roles. The first two women to attempt the Marine Infantry Officer training course failed. Placement on the basis of ability to do the job, rather than sex, is still the right way to go (about 25% of the men also failed the course).

When the Americans with Disabilities Act was signed nearly 23 years ago, President George H.W. Bush acknowledged the fears and concerns of businesses that the act would be costly. But, he said, “Let the shameful wall of exclusion finally come tumbling down.”

Many positions in the US Army are similar to civilian jobs in clinics, computer/technology settings, communications, accounting, logistics and transportation, mechanical and electronic equipment, facilities maintenance, management, finance.

It’s time the military opens the door to military service — and its substantial benefits — t0 people whose disabilities in no way prevent them from serving with distinction.

About Sister Edith

Benedictine sister of St. Scholastica Monastery, Duluth, Minnesota
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