March 6th, 2011

From West Point to the Special Activities Division - how long would it take?

Hi fellow writers - need a bit of help here.
Been trying to calculate how long it would take for someone to be eligible to join or be recruited into the CIA's Special Activities Division if they graduate from West Point in the early 2030s and did a stint in Delta Force before that?
Tried a search on Wiki, yielded no ideas as to a duration on how long one must serve in Delta before one is eligible to be accepted into the SAD.

Wiki was also unclear as to whether one could go into Delta right out of West Point. Is that possible, or must my character serve as a Ranger or a Green Beret for a set duration first?


difficulty swallowing and nausea as stroke symptoms; also putting ice on head

Research: medical sites (Mayo Clinic,, which gave answers too vague for me

Modern-day setting. My character is an Asian woman in her mid-twenties who experiences a mini-stroke, though I wouldn't have a problem with a stroke that happened to have atypical symptoms. Broody, anxious and neurotic, which doesn't help her case. She's sleep-deprived (drowsy the whole day minus the brief caffeine boosts of two cups of coffee within the day) and stressed the day it happens.

She's having lunch when she suddenly starts having difficulty swallowing (initiating swallows of) solids even though she's always had the habit of never chewing her food properly and never had a problem. She almost chokes on her food the first time but manages to push the food towards her mouth. She get alarmed, chews the food more thoroughly, but has trouble initiating the swallow.

Questions: would someone experiencing a stroke have difficulty swallowing only solids (my character's supposed to have no problems with liquids)? What kind of difficulty would this be - initiating swallows as in my working scenario, or having trouble pushing food down the esophagus, for example? Would they be able to swallow at all? Are positions important - would, say, slightly bending forward (head and back) help? Would leaning back or sitting up straight be more difficult? Is it possible to be completely lucid while having a stroke? Is my scenario even possible?

I'd planned for her to have a brief (five minutes? What do you think?) flare-up of nausea some time before lunch. She doesn't finish her meal and stays away from solids for a while. She also decided to watch a movie to calm her nerves, but still is anxious about swallowing even her coffee while leaning back on her chair. She gets dizzy or disoriented (also briefly) while walking around after the movie. She eats something soft for dinner and sees that the problem's over (at least for the softer, more manageable solids).

Also, would putting ice on an uninjured head cause problems? What about putting ice a few hours after hitting your head?