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Monday, October 15 2018 @ 10:16 am PDT

The Pipe Dream of Military Equality

Deaf ROTC Auditor Fights to Join Army

This case is particularly interesting due to issues of women in combat, disabled soldiers staying in active duty, and the Israeli model. On one hand, I understand why the Army says "no." We have obligations to our wounded veterans that do not automatically extend to other citizens. While we may feel obliged to serve, the military is not obliged to accept us into its ranks. Combat readiness must be the first priority. Moreover, as we have seen with female soldiers, non-combat designations to not always prevent the soldier from ending up in combat, and in this case, his inability to hear may put himself or others at risk.

But the reality is that we already accept differences in physical standards. Age and gender based requirements are a fact of military life. As I discussed in the post about female Special Ops teams, we'll do far better to recognize different abilities rather than make a fuss about creating "equality" within the military. Equality of worth is not the same as equality of role. Keith Nolan should have his chance to earn a commission, not because we need to make the military "match the population" but because he's proven that he has tremendous potential to serve with distinction. But if we are to make such a bold move, we must eschew concern about the public response if something goes wrong. After reading his story, I believe Nolan would gladly accept the risks. And if he fulfills his potential, I believe his future brothers in arms would gladly accept them too.


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