Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Soldier who is blind continues to serve

I saw this article and the first person I thought of was Ryan. When Ryan was a kid he wanted nothing more than to serve in the U.S. Air Force. Our dad was an Air Force pilot and Ryan wanted to follow in his footsteps. Only trouble was being legally blind this goal wasn't really an option.

It broke Ryan's heart.

Reading this story and others I've seen over the past few weeks about people with disabilities serving in the military and remaining on active duty after they are injured, I can't help but wonder what impact that will make in the future for young people with disabilities who want to serve. Perhaps combat wouldn't be an option. Fighter pilot duty for Ryan probably wouldn't have been a good idea. But in this age of technology and of an increasingly taxed military, are there not non-combat roles that some people with disabilities could fill just as well as anyone - prior military service or not? What impact would that make on force readiness? Would it be a problem, or would it free up more people to serve in forward areas? Just a few random thoughts as I read this story.

Blind Special Forces soldier: determined to serve
FORT BRAGG, N.C. (AP) — When Capt. Ivan Castro joined the Army, he set goals: to jump out of planes, kick in doors and lead soldiers into combat. He achieved them all. Then the mortar round landed five feet away, blasting away his sight.

"Once you're blind, you have to set new goals," Castro said.
He set them higher.

Not content with just staying in the Army, he is the only blind officer serving in the Special Forces — the small, elite units famed for dropping behind enemy lines on combat missions.

As executive officer of the 7th Special Forces Group's headquarters company in Fort Bragg, Castro's duties don't directly involve combat, though they do have him taking part in just about everything that leads up to it.

"I am going to push the limits," the 40-year-old said. "I don't want to go to Fort Bragg and show up and sit in an office. I want to work every day and have a mission."

Since the war began in Iraq, more than 100 troops have been blinded and 247 others have lost sight in one eye. Only two other blind officers serve in the active-duty Army: one a captain studying to be an instructor at West Point, the other an instructor at the Combined Arms Center at Fort Leavenworth, Kan.

Castro's unit commander said his is no charity assignment. Rather it draws on his experience as a Special Forces team member and platoon leader with the 82nd Airborne Division.

"The only reason that anyone serves with 7th Special Forces Group is if they have real talents," said Col. Sean Mulholland. "We don't treat (Castro) as a public affairs or a recruiting tool."

An 18-year Army veteran, Castro was a Ranger before completing Special Forces training, the ...

To read the whole story, visit the Associated Press Web site - http://ap.google.com/article/ALeqM5jgSSBE33IxWmdtK0LhI1l1LDy8SQD91KG2OG5

1 comment:

Kelly Stanfield said...

i found it interesting that one of the blind serving in the Army is serving at Fort Leavenworth. I hadn't heard about that. You sure found an interesting article here.