I would like to join the military but have a diagnosed learning disability. Will this be a problem? Will they provide accommodations?

Legislation was passed that exempts the Armed Forces from the ADA. The Armed Forces are not required to grant accommodations, such as extended test time, on their qualifying test or as applies to service, so yes, having a learning disability would be a big problem. Also, military regulations provide that academic skills deficits that interfere with school or work after the age of 12 may be a cause for rejection for service in the Armed Forces.

Specifically, Members of the Armed Forces are appointed to a specific rank or grade under the authority of Title 10, United States Code. As such, they are exempt from the Americans with Disabilities Act (see 42 U.S.C. Sections 12111(5)(B)(i) at http://www.ada.gov/pubs/adastatute08.htm#12111 and 12131 at http://www.ada.gov/pubs/adastatute08.htm#12131). Discrimination in DoD civilian positions is governed by the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 which generally applies the same standards for employment as the Americans with Disabilities Act. However, this policy does not apply to “uniformed members of the military departments,” only civilians. The military exception to the Rehabilitation Act is articulated in case law interpreting the statutory language. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and DoD regulations explicitly exempt military positions in the DoD from disability anti-discrimination policies and procedures. DoD physical requirements for military positions affirmatively discriminate on the basis of disability, and the courts have interpreted the military’s statutory authority to prescribe physical standards as overriding the requirements of the Rehabilitation Act.

There is a link from the Coast Guard which has a synopsis of all the relevant sections of the USC, any executive orders, etc. at

http://www.uscg.mil/hq/cg00/cg00h/History/EEOLaws.asp

So basically, Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 exempts the federal government from complying with disability law based on its fundamental definition of “employer.” Any compliance with disability law by the armed forces is by choice, so for example, they have chosen to make all new construction wheelchair accessible. Likewise, they have chosen to adopt policy/procedure that does not allow for accommodations on the ASVAB. But it’s their choice.

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