Ben Carson's Claim about West Point: A Half-Truth
There has been much contention about a claim that Ben Carson made in his book Gifted Hands: he turned down a full ride to West Point. While Politico argues the claim is a “fabrication,” the facts suggest the story is partly true.
After some digging, Politico reported that Carson’s claim was a lie. Turns out, there is no record of Ben Carson’s application to the school. “In 1969, those who would have completed the entire process would have received their acceptance letters from the Army Adjutant General,” said academy spokeswoman Theresa Brinkerhoff. “If he chose to pursue (the application process), then we would have records indicating such.”
Barry Bennett, Carson’s campaign manager, explained that after a meeting with General Westmoreland, Carson was told he could get an Appointment to the school. Carson decided not to seek admission.
Furthermore, there are no “full scholarships” to West Point. If a student is accepted, he or she pays no tuition. Bennett, however, argues that an “Appointment” is basically the same thing as a “full scholarship.”
According to Carson spokesman Doug Watts, Carson was made an informal offer by his high school ROTC leader. “He does not write in the book that he applied to the school. Students who are accepted to West Point, a US Military Academy, do not pay tuition. The Politico story claimed that Carson had ‘fabricated’ his ‘application and acceptance’ into the US Military Academy,” said Watts. “Dr. Carson as the leading ROTC student in Detroit was told by his commanders that he could get an appointment at the academy. He never said he was admitted or even applied.”
“I was offered a full scholarship to West Point,” Carson writes in the autobiography. In my opinion, a teenage Carson may have honestly believed the Appointment was equivalent to a “full scholarship.” However, the Carson campaign team reacted to the harsh media attention by admitting the story was false.