Veteran’s Day 2023
As our nation commemorates Veterans Day, honoring and remembering those who have served and sacrificed, it is an appropriate time to consider the financial, medical, and other assistance available to veterans, their families, and survivors. Veterans Benefits are administered at the federal level by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), which is the second largest cabinet-level department and has a budget of over $325 billion.
While the full range of VA benefits extends to housing and home loan guarantees, job training, small business loans, burials, memorials, and education. There is now new recognition for children and adults on the autism spectrum. According to the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention ((CDC), one in every 36 children may be diagnosed with autism.
< My Thoughts > “…one in every 36 children…”
Last year, the CDC’s estimate was one in every 44 children were diagnosed with autism. Autism is on the rise. Causes of the increase remains somewhat of a mystery. But, hundreds of thousands of 18-year-olds in the U. S. population and elsewhere have been diagnosed and need to explore a hopeful future, as an adult. The military may be an option.
Added to established ‘military benefits’, armed services recruiters are now looking for bright, industrious recruits, and applicants with Asperger’s. This population often proves to fit the bill of specialized services, with their high IQ.
For instance, Rubin (2016) Staff Writer for Atlantic magazine describes a selective intelligence squad formed by the Israeli Army. Many autistic soldiers who would otherwise be exempt from military service have found a place in Unit 9900.
She says that a 21-year-old recruit with autism enjoys spending long hours combing through each millimeter of satellite images of the same location from various angles. And, that that most persons with autism can outperform in auditory tasks (such as discriminating sound pitches), detecting visual structures, and mentally manipulating complex three-dimensional shapes.
< My Thoughts > “…millimeter of satellite images…”
After becoming highly trained by the military, it seems likely that these skills would easily transfer to a variety of civilian jobs. Air traffic controller comes to mind!
Davis (2021) shares that one eventful day, a passenger-filled sedan rolled violently against a dirt median. It abruptly halted on its roof and blocked oncoming traffic on the interstate. Master Sgt. Shale Norwitz’s duty to protect and serve took over.
Officer Norwitz, 5th Combat Communications Squadron noncommissioned officer in charge of Operations Planning, extracted the occupants of the vehicle, leading the victims away from the wreckage, and redirected the flow of traffic.
Norwitz attributed his heroic acts to his military training and neurodiversity. “I’m on the [autism] spectrum and that makes me good at being a strategic thinker, and contributes to my innovation,” Norwitz said. “This is the stuff that makes us great, but it is something we need reinforcement on.”
Rob V. (2020) determined on a case-by-case basis if the recruiter realizes that you have something to offer the nation. Like most things in the military, depends on the military branch and the level of autism.
Zauderer (2023) states that according to the information presented by the US Air Force and other branches, people with Autism Spectrum Disorder are not forbidden to go into the military.
< My Thoughts > “…not forbidden…”
Recruiting requirements have been relaxed somewhat to help meet monthly recruitment goals, in all branches of the service. Men and women on the spectrum often find ‘hard-to-fill’, boring, repetitive tasks fascinating and engaging. For instance, alerting to endless patterns and numerical sequences which may otherwise escape the neurotypical person.
Also, Mander (2022) makes us aware that there are government programs to help military veterans' children with special needs — the trick is to find them.
Davis, T. (2021). Airman Advocates for Neurodiversity in the Military. Retrieved online from: https://www.af.mil/News/Article-Display/Article/2721387/airman-advocates-for-neurodiversity-in-military/
Mander, L. (2022). Assistance Is Available for Veterans’ Children with Disabilities; Retrieved online from – https://specialneedsanswers.com/assistance-is-available-for-veterans-children-with-disabilities-18827
Rubin, S. (2016). The Israeli Army Unit that Recruits Teens with Autism; Retrieved online from -
https://www.theatlantic.com › health › archive › 2016/01
V. Rob (2020). Can You Join the Military with Autism? By Rob V.; founder of Operation Military Kids.org.
Zauderer, S. (2023). Cross River Therapy. Retrieved online from: https://www.crossrivertherapy.com
Supplemental Security Income; https://www.ssa.gov/ssi?gclid=EAIaIQobChMIgZKVxrS8ggMVFgqtBh3uYAIeEAAYASAAEgJRgPD_BwE