The Basic Military Qualification (BMQ) course is well known to be a difficult test, a necessary passage, but incredibly rewarding for those who by their determination and courage attempt the adventure of the profession of arms. This must-see reality for all members of the Canadian Armed Forces should be kept in mind when learning about the inspiring story of Pte Colt Squires.
Living with an ASD
Pte Squires arrived at Saint-Jean Garrison knowing that he would face additional challenges during training due to his diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). This determined young man was not going to stop himself but live this experience, although this reality with which he has faced for some time now has caused him some difficulties in his life. He took up this challenge and to achieve his goals. However, he admitted that he was hesitant before making his way to the recruiting center. He was concerned that his ASD would interfere with his goal of pursuing a military career, but his aspirations and his passion for the military world have pushed him to go further, and surpass his own expectations. “It is also by civic duty, by responsibility and by patriotism that I made the choice to enlist,” he says. He made the choice to overcome his fears and to go further still and pushing the boundaries that society tends to impose on people living with ASD.
Make his way
Upon his arrival, he remained reluctant to disclose his condition for fear that he would not be accepted by his peers and new colleagues. He didn’t particularly want his condition to become an excuse, or to be seen as such. He wanted to have the same training experience as all basic training candidates. He wanted to go through the ups and downs, the hardships, to feel exhausted, and to live fully the ardor of the task he awaited.
Support from CFLRS
What the Hamilton, Ontario native didn’t know was that upon arrival, he would be greeted by a group of instructors who were about to go above and beyond his expectations because they believed in his ability to meet standards and to become a valued and respected CAF member. Sometimes it was with simple deeds and gestures, such as his instructors giving him the right tools so that he could meet the challenges that awaited him. To support his learning needs, Pte Squires was given access to the lesson plan materials, which allowed him to focus on listening to the new information in class. As some people with ASD have difficulty managing complex social situations, he received mentorship and guidance to help him adapt to the military social environment. Pte Squires was welcomed within his platoon with open arms and felt a strong spirit of camaraderie with his peers who offered him advice and mutual help throughout the course.
As he walked through the doors of Canadian Forces Leadership and Recruit School (CFLRS), Pte Colt Squires found an environment that fostered his personal and professional growth. It is with pride that he will face the challenges of his career in the CAF. The aspiring combat engineer does not know where his path will take him but feels more equipped than ever to face the challenges of the future! Either way, he can be proud of having paved the way for future generations of recruits and breaking down another barrier. Congratulations!
Since July 2021, the CFLRS has welcomed 17 candidates who have chosen to disclose their learning disabilities. Everyone receives (or has received) personalized support during their training and many have successfully graduated basic training, following in the footsteps of Pte Squires.
Source: The Maple Leaf