A Cadet in the U.S. Army ROTC Program faced disenrollment based on an allegation that she failed to disclose a learning disability which the Army views as a disqualifying medical condition. Though the Army ultimately concluded the Cadet suffered from a disqualifying condition it ordered her disenrollment from ROTC but without any military service obligation or having to repay the scholarship benefits conferred upon her while in the program. The learning disability issue arose when the Cadet experienced difficulty with the academic portion of her classroom-based ROTC instruction. She also experienced trouble successfully completing field training in the area of land navigation. As time progressed and the Cadet did not show improvement her cadre or faculty in the ROTC Program questioned her below average performance. She replied to her superiors that she performed well academically in all other college courses but that some of her professors allotted her extra time to take tests and exams. This prompted suspicion by the cadre that the Cadet suffered from a learning disability. The Cadet actually admitted that while in high school she was diagnosed with a mild learning disability sufficient to obtain testing accommodations for school exams and the SAT in preparation for college. The cadre reported this information through its chain of command and ultimately the ROTC Cadet Command Surgeon. He advised that disenrollment proceedings be initiated. The learning disability information was not disclosed during the Cadetӳ initial entry physical examination when applying to the ROTC Program and for a ROTC scholarship. It was also not disclosed by the Cadet during subsequent annual health assessments where the Cadet reported annually no significant change in her medical conditions. As a result disenrollment proceedings initiated on grounds that (1) the Cadet suffered from a disqualified medical condition for military service namely a learning disability and (2) the Cadet committed fraud by failing to disclose this condition to ROTC. The Cadet and her family retained the services of Attorney John L. Calcagni III to defend her at a disenrollment board or hearing. Cadets facing disenrollment are afforded minimal due process at a hearing presided over by a single Investigating Officer appointed to determine if a Cadet was contracted with ROTC; if that Cadet breached the contract; and as a result of the breach whether the Cadet should be called to active duty in an enlisted capacity or alternatively forced to repay the government for the financial scholarship benefits provided incident to ROTC membership. In preparation for this event Attorney Calcagni recommended that his client agree to undergo independent psychological testing to determine if she truly suffered from a learning disability. The Cadet and her family agreed. A clinical professional administered a battery of tests to the Cadet who demonstrated no objective signs of a learning disability. Essentially the test case_results were negative for evidence of any learning disability. These test case_results formed a significant component of the Cadetӳ defense at the disenrollment board. Additional evidence was presented at the board to include a series of documents and the testimony of live witnesses. The documents consisted of the Cadetӳ transcript demonstrating her strong academic performance in college and a series of character reference statements from peers professors former employers and fellow cadets. The character references collectively proved the Cadetӳ strong commitment and dedication to hard work and ROTC. They also signified her reputation and character for honesty loyalty trust truthfulness and integrity. These references were an important component of her defense to rebut allegations by the Army as set forth in the notification of disenrollment that she deliberately concealed information regarding a learning disability during Army medical examinations in order to subvert the Army’s medical standards to gain access to ROTC and its scholarship program. The Cadet and her mother both testified at the board. The Cadet emphasized how important it was for her to remain in ROTC; that she did not ever believe she had an actual learning disability; and when answering questions posed to her by Army medical providers whether in person or in writing she was never asked about learning disabilities or test accommodations. Rather the questions posed to her asked if she had ever suffered from a mental health condition. The Cadet did not have any medical training or background and did not relate a learning disability or the receipt of test accommodations with a mental health condition. Therefore she answered no to these questions. In closing she testified that she did not deliberately hide or conceal anything from the Army. The Cadetӳ mother also testified that she did not believe her daughter ever had a learning disability neither in the past nor in the present. While the Cadet was in high school her mother and others sought the assistance of an educational consultant to help their daughters with SAT preparation and test taking. Part of the strategy suggested by the consultant involved the girls applying for and receiving additional time to take the SAT. The Cadet on her motherӳ advice followed this guidance and was granted additional test taking time. After this happened with the SAT the Cadet felt at liberty to similarly request additional test taking time for her college exams without realizing or anticipating that she was conceding the existence of a learning disability or doing something untoward. Based on the totality of this evidence Attorney Calcagni successfully convinced the disenrollment board Investigating Officer (IO) to conclude that the Cadet did not willfully or deliberately conceal a disqualifying medical condition from the Army. He further convinced the IO to recommend to the Army either acceptance of the recent medical evidence suggesting the Cadet did not have a learning disability precluding her from military service or alternatively subject the Cadet to further testing by military healthcare professionals. In the end the Army considered the IO’s recommendations. After concluding the Cadet did in fact have a disqualifying condition because of prior academic accommodations then grounded on the basis of a potential leaning disability the Army ordered her to be disenrolled from the ROTC Program. However and most importantly her disenrollment was ordered with no obligation. This relieved her of any military service obligation and debt to the government. The financial benefits received by the Cadet pursuant to her ROTC contract in the approximate amount of $100000.00 were completely forgiven. Congratulations to this former Cadet who may now pursue other civilian career aspirations debt free of any student loans.
Criminal Case Result:
- ROTC Disenrollment on Grounds of Failing to Disclose Disqualifying Medical Condition: Successfully Disenrolled with No Military Service or Financial Obligation.