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Cadets Having Special Needs

A History of Inclusion

When Civil Air Patrol formed in the early days of World War II, many of our first volunteers were patriotic citizens unavailable for military service who nevertheless were determined to serve the nation in a time of need. CAP welcomed women, World War I veterans, teenagers, senior citizens, disabled persons, and other volunteers. Our history is built upon a wonderful inclusiveness found only in a democracy. CAP draws its strength from the fact that as a civilian auxiliary of the Air Force, we can and do include Americans from all backgrounds in our important work. Today that proud tradition continues . . . 

Guidance for Parents

Commitment to Inclusion. If your cadet has a disability or other special need, please talk with the local leaders. We are committed to doing everything we reasonably can to help each cadet succeed. We're especially proud of cadets who work hard and lead by example, despite a learning or physical disability. 

Process. Sit down with local adult leaders and begin a two-way conversation about the cadet's situation. Listen to local leaders explain how a given cadet activity ordinarily "looks and feels." When the family and CAP leaders try to understand one another, they're more apt to be successful in imagining potential accommodations. And please let us know your expectations about confidentiality so we can discuss who, specifically, has an official need to know about your cadet’s special needs.  

If Talks Get Stalled. If your family proposes an accommodation that local leaders believe would be unworkable, you can expect the conversation to continue in a cooperative, back-and-forth search for better options. CAP tries hard to make reasonable accommodations and denies requests only as a last resort if they pose an undue burden. If you feel local leaders are not addressing your cadet's situation properly, know that the wing (state) director of cadet programs may be able to mediate. Additionally, national staff is available to assist at, 877-227-9142 Option 2.


Some Accommodations CAP Has Provided to Cadets

  • extra time to complete Achievement tests due to a student IEP
  • personalized goals for running 1-mile due to a medical condition
  •  alternative meal choices due to allergies or religious practices
  • modified conditions on obstacle courses due to mobility challenges
  • choice of wingman (peer support) familiar with the cadet's special needs  



"I wanted a program out of school that would give me some leeway but also challenge me [as someone born with proximal femoral focal deficiency]. The more I learned about Civil Air Patrol, the more I liked it."

- Cadet Jamison Satterlee


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