Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Amputees and Continued Military Service

Over the past 24 hours, I've read 2 articles about injured service members and their bids to continue to serve in uniform.  One trumpets the first USAF officer (1Lt Ryan McGuire) to complete initial pilot training as an amputee.  (The first US officer (Lt Col Andrew Lourake) returned to the cockpit after an above-the-knee amputation less than 7 years ago.)  Those are inspiring feats. 

Less inspiring is our northern neighbor's response to similar situations.  Corporal Ryan Elrick lost both his legs 5 years ago in an IED attack in Afghanistan.  Despite proving his fitness to remain in the military, apparently the National Defence Act requires Canadian Forces members to be what we in the US call "worldwide qualified" at all times, meaning those members who aren't deployable must be discharged.  Elrick was discharged from the service 3 months ago, but he's fighting the action in the courts, calling it unconstitutional. 

One thing that struck me as I read this article was that pregnant and immediately post-partum military members aren't worldwide qualified.  Do they get discharged?  We'd be happy to hear from our Canadian readers who might have more insight as to the NDA provisions at play here.