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Exploring Military Options for Students with Disabilities (page 2)

By — State: Arizona Department of Education
Updated on May 1, 2014

Education-Based Military Programs

Members of the U.S. Congress from each congressional district offer Military Academy Appointments which result in a tuition-free education (2004 West Point). To attend any of the academies, one must obtain letters of recommendation from one local Congressman, two U.S. Senators, and the Vice President of the United States. Potential cadets must be able to obtain a high school diploma; pass the ASVAB (Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery); have an acceptable GPA; and pass physical fitness tests and medical exams. The Marine Corp does not have its own academy; Marine cadets attend Annapolis, the Naval academy.

ROTC stands for Reserve Officer Training Corps. ROTC cadets move up the ranks by obtaining high PFT (Physical Fitness Test) scores, exhibiting strong leadership qualities, and having competitive academic scores. Both ROTC and Military Academy graduates enter the military as commissioned officers. Those who are interested in the ROTC Program may attend a university in Arizona or anywhere in the United States that has an ROTC unit. Arizona schools offering ROTC Programs are: Arizona State University, the University of Arizona, Northern Arizona University, and Embry Riddle Aeronautical University.

Students with disabilities may be accepted into an ROTC program if:

  • they can meet the physical, medical, and academic (ASVAB) entry requirements; and
  • they can handle the ROTC coursework, both academically and physically, without assistance.

ROTC programs are “competitive,” meaning that a student has to compete against other students for entry into the program and/or scholarships. Students may attend an ROTC program by:

  • applying for competitive ROTC scholarships,
  • self-paying, or
  • receiving other non-ROTC types of scholar-ships, grants, or student loans.
  • ROTC cadets must be eligible for active duty before they enroll in the program. Cadets must be able to show acceptable scores on the ASVAB and SAT or ACT. (The average SAT score for an ROTC scholarship is 1200 and for the ACT, it is 24). Entry ASVAB scores vary with each branch.

At the university level, students with disabilities can receive appropriate accommodations for core classes. Due to the fact the ROTC programs are for military preparedness, they are not required to comply with ADA provisions. All cadets must be able to handle the ROTC academic and physical components without accommodations. For example, a student with a learning disability might be able to complete the ROTC courses without outside help, pass the physical fitness and medical portions, yet may need accommodations for English and math requirements for college graduation. For the college core classes, the cadet is able to seek needed accommodations or services through the Disabilities Compliance Office on campus.

Reserves, National Guards, Coast Guard

These branches are ideal for those who wish to stay closer to home. The Reserves and National Guards allow men and women to serve two days a month plus two weeks per year for 4–6 years. This reduced time commitment allows the enlistee to attend college if they wish, or to be employed outside of their military commitment. Keep in mind, however, that Reservists can be activated by the President during wartime to serve in other countries or combat areas, just like a full-time active duty soldier.

Officer’s training programs and financial assistance are offered to Reservists attending an accredited college or university full-time. Upon graduating with a four-year degree, he/she has the option of full-time active duty status with their preferred branch of the military as a commissioned officer, or can serve as an officer in the National Guards or Reserves. Reservists are eligible for the GI Bill, which provides financial assistance for continuing education during or after their service commitment is completed.

Unlike the Reserves and National Guards, the Coast Guard is a full-time position. Enlistees are stationed along the U.S. coastline. Those wishing to become officers may attend the Coast Guard Academy in New London, CT, or enter with a four-year degree. Entry into the academy or service is similar to the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines.

Coast Guard personnel are eligible for the GI Bill, which provides financial assistance for continuing education during or after their service commitment is completed.

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