Autistic Marine Court Martialed and Given Bad Conduct Discharge

Citing the ongoing investigation, military superiors have declined to allow comment from Maj. Michael Stehle, Teson's commanding officer during his time as a recruiter in Orange County, Calif., and from the Naval battalion corpsman identified in the court document as "HM1 Sutherland" who allegedly knew of Fry's autism at boot camp.

Numbers from the Department of Defense show 2,426 claims of recruiter misconduct across the Armed Forces in 2007, the most recent data available. Of those, 593 were substantiated.

Though those figures were lower in 2007 than the previous year, data from the Army and Marines show a reversed trend, with the number of both claims and substantiated claims rising slightly from 2006 to 2007.

In the Army there were 357 substantiated claims of recruiter misconduct, up from 333 in 2006. Those figures for the Marines were 118 substantiated claims in 2007, compared to 102 the previous year.

But the number of claims compared to the number of recruitments remains very low -- .20 percent for the Army and .27 percent for the Marines in 2007.

Non-Disclosure Risks Dismissal, Court Martial

Asch said that most Marines who enlist with a medical or criminal history that doesn't mesh with the ideals of military policy do so with a waiver. Studies have shown that the dissemination of waivers has increased in all branches of the armed services.

A quality study done each year by the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense showed that the Army had been particularly hard hit in the area of high school graduates, with the number of recruits with a diploma dropping from 92 percent in 2003 to 83 percent in 2008.

The Marines, by comparison, dropped from 98 percent to 96 percent during the same time period.

Fry, Logan said, never got a waiver. And unless Teson would have brought concerns about Fry's history to his commanding officer -- Maj. Stehle in this case -- Teson's supervisors would have had no reason to question this recruit out of thousands that come through each year.

Dr. Wayne Fisher, director of the Center for Autism Spectrum Disorders and professor of behavioral research at the University of Nebraska Medical Center's Monroe-Meyer Institute, has been studying autism since 1976.

He wouldn't go so far as to say a high-functioning autistic person should be precluded from the military on that diagnosis alone -- he know of some high-functioning people who became college professors -- but admitted the number of recruits with autism that would do well in that capacity would be in the minority.

Fisher has not treated Fry and could not comment on his case specifically. Some people with autism function well in a tightly regimented life, he said, "but if they're not able to function alone and they're in a facility where they're not taking care of themselves, that would be a flag."

In general autistic adults lack the ability to handle unique situations and have few friends. They are typically incapable of living a fully independent life. Many, Fisher said, find a niche working in jobs that require little social interaction such as working with machines or stocking shelves.

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