I can usually help my Deaf and Hard of Hearing students participate in anything their little hearts desire...that is until the topic switched to the military. You see, from a very young age, I've had a profoundly Deaf student who wanted nothing more than to be in the Army and serve his country. For years, I saw him go to JROTC events and even pick up memorabilia from recruiters' offices. Every year when we discussed transition, he would question why he couldn't be in the military. Well, the government is hard to take on and they have these requirements to join which includes a physical. This particular kiddo would pass any physical with flying colors. I think he's the only kid I know who has had a 6-pack since third grade. He is very athletic and probably doesn't have an ounce of fat on his body! Did I say he'd pass any physical? Not the military physical! The military requires enlistees to have normal hearing. Of course, think of the number who quickly lose their hearing within a few months of joining...but they're already in!
It's a safety issue, they say. I agree. I really don't want to see on the news that my student was killed fighting for his country, but I bet the military doesn't realize that most of my Deaf and Hard of Hearing students could spot a sniper way sooner than someone with "normal" hearing! Their other senses are typically heightened and they would be an asset in combat...well, they'd be an asset in that respect, but not being able to hear orders could put them or their crew in serious danger.
So, that's it? Deaf individuals can't serve their country? They can't be decorated officers?
A vocational rehabilitation counselor just explained a loophole! If a Deaf individual wants to be in the military, he or she needs to go the college route. Go to a college with a strong ROTC program and by graduation, the student will be an officer. The individual won't experience boot camp (sorry) and won't be deployed out on the front lines of combat (again, I'm sorry, but this doesn't seem so bad to me). Typical military careers would include forensics, intelligence, investigation, etc. Wait, you mean none of the yelling and all of the respect? Yes, Sir!
My mind was completely blown! I've talked to many recruiters over the years and none of them could provide me with this answer. Please share this if you know of Deaf and Hard of Hearing who want to serve their country! It's just one more way we can educate others and even the playing field!