Joining the military is a very noble and patriotic thing to do. Fighting to preserve the freedom of this great country is something many want to do, but can you join the military with diabetes?
Questions about military recruiting and diabetes have been asked for many years. There are multiple types of diabetes and even pre-diabetes to consider. If you’re considering joining the military, but you’re afraid because of diabetes, here’s the information you seek.
Diabetes and the Military
If you have pre-diabetes, Type 1, Type 1.5 or Type 2 diabetes, it’s not as easy as simply joining the military. Questions may come up about your diabetic condition and even though it may seem discriminatory for the military to tell someone they cannot serve due to this condition, the military is known for rejecting people due to health issues.
Before we start to get too worried, it’s important to look at how military recruiting and diabetes relate. It’s also important to look at what could happen if you’re diagnosed with diabetes as a member of the military.
Why Should Diabetes Be a Problem in the Military?
Looking at the reality of the situation will help to show why diabetes presents a problem for military members. Imagine you have been sent overseas to somewhere in the Middle East. It’s hot, you only get MREs (meals ready to eat) for meals and you may have to go long periods without eating.
MREs consist mainly of carbohydrates and the heat makes it very difficult to keep your insulin from being exposed to extremely high temperatures. With your unit constantly moving, you get very little sleep and the high-stress situations, this type of work could become very dangerous to your health.
If you’re in this type of situation and you live with Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes, you will likely be on insulin. It’s possible you could leave your insulin behind if your unit moves out fast and it won’t take must to see your blood sugar reach dangerous levels very fast.
In the middle of combat, you could have an issue related directly to your diabetes and it could cause your unit to either leave you behind or scramble for supplies. If they have to stop and take care of you, it could put the entire unit at risk.
Where does the Military Stand on Diabetes?
The best way to find out where the military stands on diabetes is to speak with a military recruiter. However, it’s generally a hard stance taken by the military when it comes to Type 1, Type 1.5, and Type 2 diabetes. All military branches take the same, hard stance and do not allow those with Type 1, Type 1.5, and Type 2 diabetes to enlist.
While you can try to go through the medical waiver process, you will likely still get told no. In fact, some stories have been told of PDQs given to those with pre-diabetes before a full medical evaluation has even been done. However, these stories could also be related to obesity or being overweight or could even be related to mental illness.
In some cases, those that have already joined the military only to be diagnosed with diabetes later have been able to stay in the military. Often, they are reassigned, if their occupation puts them at too high of a risk.
How Insulin Factors into the Decision
Often, those with diabetes are on insulin, which is the biggest issue for the military. When it comes to military recruiting and diabetes, if you’re on insulin, it will disqualify you almost immediately. If you’re not on insulin, it’s still tricky, but you have a chance.
While it may seem rather cut and dry with diabetes, it’s not. If you’re a Type 1 or Type 2 diabetic and you take insulin, you may be allowed to serve in the military, especially if you’re already in the military. If your diabetes is well controlled and you have an A1C below 7, you may be okay.
If you’re already in, you will have to jump through some hoops and submit some waivers, but with the right medical testing, you may be able to serve in a non-combat-related position. However, if your A1C reaches a level above 7, you could be discharged.
Military Recruiting and Diabetes
If you’re not in the military, it can be very difficult to enlist if you have pre-diabetes, Type 1, Type 1.5 or Type 2 diabetes. Depending on the severity of your disease and your A1C, you may be able to enlist in certain positions. However, you can also consider going on a plant-based diet for many months or even a few years before enlisting.
A plant-based diet has been shown to reverse diabetes and even has allowed some to live without insulin or any other treatment for the disease. Following a strict plant-based diet could be the answer and may allow you to get the all-clear from a doctor before enlisting in the military.
The hard part will be sticking to this type of diet once you’re in the military. While some bases and military outlets have become far healthier, it’s still difficult to get all the best foods during basic training and during combat. However, if you follow a plant-based diet as much as possible, you may be able to join the military and keep your diabetes from coming back.
Make sure to consult a doctor before starting any new diet. If you want to join the military, but you have pre-diabetes or diabetes, consider making some major diet changes first. This could be your ticket to joining without diabetes and to a healthier you.