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Deaf Cadets Observe Basic Training

8 High School cadets from the Maryland School for the Deaf visited Fort Jackson, SC. They had the opportunity to observe basic training, and participate in obstacle courses as a team. Take a look.


After participating in basic training, the students were given the opportunity to introduce themselves and express what that experience meant to them.  


Keith Nolan is responsible for establishing the Deaf Cadet Program at the Maryland School for the Deaf. We reached out to Keith to learn more about the student’s experience and his passion for working in the military.


Keith Nolan 

“I have always wanted to serve our country in the military and I was really fortunate to

participate in an Army ROTC program in college for a year. It was a great experience

and everything went really well, but as you might have seen in my TED Talk presentation, I couldn’t commission nor enlist because I am deaf, and the military’s current policy on hearing loss prevents that. Ever since then, I’ve been continuing my advocacy to push for a demonstration program so the military can see the capabilities of deaf Americans to serve in the armed forces. So, while I am continuing that, I received support from Maryland School for the Deaf (where I currently teach government and history high school classes) to establish a cadet program at the school. I really have to thank Maryland School for the Deaf for their support because now I can finally pass on what I learned from my Army ROTC experience to the next generation. I am also very fortunate to have a co-instructor named Dr. David Alexander who is a 12-year Army Veteran to teach the cadets with me. We primarily teach the cadets leadership skills using the military structure, techniques, and discipline. Now the high school cadet program is in its third year.”


Currently, the cadet program is limited to 10 cadets at a time. The students are required to be in their junior and senior year at MSD.  The most important thing we look for in a cadet is their desire to learn and the possibility of serving in the military if the policy on hearing loss is ever revised.


Keith says the trip to Fort Jackson wouldn’t have been possible without Chris Jackson, the Sergeant First Class Founder of Team Stay Motivated. Here’s what he had to say about the experience.


“Chris Jackson

Hello! Hey how ya doin’ my name is Chris Jackson, sign name Chris Jackson. Born and raised in Houston, Texas Selfridge class in the Army. I’m here to conversate or discuss with you all about meeting with Keith Nolan, and the students of a Maryland School for the Deaf (MSD). It was an awesome, wonderful experience they got intertwined with the soldiers, they did uh, physical fitness, they got to do excessive bounding with the M-4, they didn’t fire any live rounds but uh, it was a good experience for them. Also did a, uh, team development uh, course. They went through the game we call Fit to Win, abbreviation FTW, Fit to Win.”

The military can prepare a person for any career by teaching leadership skills, a strong work ethic, and cultural competency. Thank you to Keith and Chris for sharing this experience with us.


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