But then the stories come in, Sanchez said, about how recruiters have been known to tell potential enlistees who have failed a drug test to stay clean for a few days and try again.
"We've seen more of a drug problem in our military," she said.
But the story of Fry's enlistment, she said, was unlike anything she's heard.
Fry was born in 1988 to a crack addicted father and a mother on heroin according to his lawyer's 35-page court motion to dismiss the charges, which was later rejected. The document details a downtrodden life that included physical and possible sexual abuse all while Fry slipped further behind in his developmental progress.
By the age of 3, according to the motion, he tested as having an IQ of 70 and was found to be anti-social and self-abusive. He was diagnosed with autism when he was 3 and then again as a teenager.
While in high school Fry was arrested for suspected larceny of iPods and found to have a knife. The charges were eventually dismissed and Fry was sent to what the motion describes as a "lockdown facility for youths" in Colorado to finish high school and receive treatment and counseling.
It was during this time that his legal guardian, grandmother Mary Beth Fry applied for and was granted temporary conservatorship over her grandson, the court noting that Fry, then 18, lacked the capacity to fully care for himself or enter into contracts on his own behalf.
After leaving the Colorado facility, Fry took up residence at a group home in Irvine, Calif., where he was living until his enlistment.
An assessment in 2006 by a licensed psychiatrist who treated Fry for two years noted that while the young man was high-functioning for a person with autism "he appears quite limited in his ability to think ahead of possible consequences."
That foreshadowing seemed to come true once Fry got to boot camp on Jan. 14, 2008.
"Immediately it was clear to Fry that he could not keep up with the day-to-day pace of boot camp," the motion argued. "Several times Fry informed his staff that he did not want to be a Marine. Each time he was told that was not an option."
But what was surprising to some after the fact is how he even got there in the first place.
While the words "autism" and "developmental disability" are never mentioned in the medical evaluation checklist, a Pentagon official said the disorder is considered included in section E1.25.26, which states "current or history of other mental disorders … that in the opinion of the civilian or military provider shall interfere with, or prevent satisfactory performance of military duty are disqualifying."
Other prohibited behaviors that could have disqualified Fry from the start include:
Having a perceptual or learning disorder
Inpatient treatment in a hospital or residential facility
Recurrent encounters with law enforcement agencies, anti-social attitudes or behaviors
History of "immaturity, instability, personality inadequacy, impulsiveness or dependency."
According to the document, Fry struck up a friendship with Marine Gunnery Sgt. Matthew Teson, then a recruiter, while participating in the Young Marines Program in high school. The two had spoken about Fry's possible enlistment, a discussion put on hold when he was sent to the Colorado facility.