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Old August 12, 2005, 09:08 PM   #1
Full Metal Jacket
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Can you join the Armed Forces with asthma/allergies?

Just wondering if you can join any branch of the U.S. Armed Forces with asthma/allergies. I assume it would be toughest to be a pilot or a Marine with allergies/asthma out of any other branch. If not, does this mean you cannot be drafted either? What if you had asthma/allergies as a youngster but at 18 you lost your asthma and want to join the armed forces?

Thanks.
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Old August 12, 2005, 09:24 PM   #2
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Yes and no.

The military service has enlistment and commisioning physical exam standards which vary slightly from service to service but waivers can be had which vary a good bit dependent upon the need of the service. For instance I knew a man who was in his early 70's who had a bad heart and some parkinson's but he was allowed to come in to the service because he was a radiologist. On the other hand I knew an acadamy graduate, a pilot trainee who was discharged when he was found to be a few pounds overweight and an ROTC pilot trainee who was discharged because he was found to be 1/2 inch shorter than the standard.

If you scored high enough on Arab language skill testing and cryptology training aptitude or other shortage skill they would probably allow you to enlist in the Army or AF if you were a double amputee but they wouldn't let you become a Marine rifleman.
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Old August 12, 2005, 10:14 PM   #3
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If you can pass the physicals you can get in.

Just make sure you choose an MOS that your ailment does not ionterfere with

I got in with knees so bad you could almost hear them creaking as I walked.
There were tears in my eyes when I had to duck walk and again when I had to walk across the floor on my knees.

My father is almost totally color blind, but was able to pass the test and go in to some type of electrical field.
Didn't take long to find out why they wanted people with normal color vision.
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Old August 12, 2005, 11:50 PM   #4
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If you can pass the physicals you can get in.
And there's the rub. Passing the physical with a severe allergy or asthma is going to be tough if your honest about it. If you require meds, you're committing suicide if you don't tell them.

There might be some jobs or branches that would take someone like that, but they probably couldn't be deployed overseas or on a ship.


I have mild allergies, but that has never been a factor. I'm not allergic to airplanes, and we don't have any crewman with dander.
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Old August 13, 2005, 12:35 AM   #5
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IIRC my brother was told by his rotc director in High School that they frowned on asthmatics. I dont think that madw him too happy as that basically meant his ROTC scholarship was gone
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Old August 13, 2005, 07:10 AM   #6
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if your honest about it.
And that's the rub for me.
Don't ask don't tell applies in other areas.

If you are honest with yourself and truly know your limitations you should be better able to determine what you are capable of than a cursory exam with a doctor that has never and will never again see you.
But if you're not honest with yourself or aware of your limitations you could be in a world of pain if you put yourself in a situation where there is no immediate medical help, which will be pretty much everyday of BCT.
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If not, does this mean you cannot be drafted either?
If we ever get to the point that the draft is reinstituted asthma, flatfeet, and mild to moderate psychological disorders may not be reason for deferral
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Old August 13, 2005, 07:49 AM   #7
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It also depends on the TYPE of allergy.

During the pre-lottery draft in the mid- to late-1960s, allergies to things like wool and eggs guaranteed a deferment (and also precluded enlistment). DoD’s rationale was simple: in a massive group (like the military), you simply cannot make individualized exceptions. If winter trousers and blouses are wool or if breakfast today is scrambled eggs, it would be inefficient and unduly complex to accommodate the very few who would be adversely impacted through their allergies.

Of course, many folks who wanted to serve, and whose allergies were mild, simply lied during their induction/enlistment physicals. My father-in-law was allergic to wool, but – like countless others in WWII – he never advised the military, suffered from wearing all the wool clothing, but was commissioned as an Army Air Corps pilot and served for 4+ years.
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Old August 13, 2005, 07:58 AM   #8
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I was the Ops officer at a MEPS for a 3-year tour. By my memory, if one has "childhood asthma", one generally got a medical waiver, and if one currently has asthma, one didn't get a waiver. Given current recruiting issues, the policy might be more lax now.

You might find further information here: http://www.usarec.army.mil/im/formpu...PUBS/p40_3.pdf

or here (scroll down to the highlighted portion):
http://www.usarec.army.mil/hq/warran...501_Asthma.pdf
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Old August 13, 2005, 08:26 AM   #9
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Know the PT requirement. Make sure you can surpass it. If your asthma does not kick in after a 5 mile run, then you are probably OK. Still, make sure and mention it at the MEPS. Your recruiter may tell you to hide it. Don't. Your recruiter only cares about his quota, not your ass. It's your ass, and you don't really know what you are getting into yet. I think Igloodude has it right there. If you are still using inhalers or have needed them in X number of years, then you won't get the waiver.

If you are allergic to penicillin, morphine, demerol, or any other drug, DO NOT LIE! Doing so could be fatal. Of you are allergic to peanut oil, same thing. Other allergies, such as to cat hair or dander will not disqualify you, but again, be honest. Nobody is going to feed you dander or inject you with cat hair.

As far as being disqualifiers for a draft, if (when) the draft is reinstated, the disqualifiers will no doubt be revamped. If they have to take one legged 56 year old men with heart conditions, they will draft them.
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Old August 13, 2005, 11:47 AM   #10
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My wife was in military medicine for twenty years, retiring from the Navy back in 2000. I asked her and she said that if you have active asthma, you will not pass the entry physical for the Navy. If you have allergies to something like dog or cat dander, you will, but if you have significant food or drug allergies, you won't.

As a general standard, the Navy uses an 'ability to deploy' standard, which presumes that you may be serving in a place that has only basic medical care available, and as such, you should not have any complex medical conditions. So people with diabetes, for example, which is easily managed in civilian life, cannot be managed on board a submarine. Again, there can be some exceptions for those ratings that are essentially shore duty only.
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Old August 13, 2005, 02:04 PM   #11
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My father is almost totally color blind, but was able to pass the test and go in to some type of electrical field.
Didn't take long to find out why they wanted people with normal color vision.


LOL In HS I had a classmate who was Blue/Green color blind. When he took computer networking he had a tough time with the wiring projects. He could wire fine, but was alway's leaning over and asking "what color is this".
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Old August 13, 2005, 02:28 PM   #12
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I'm color deficient and have semi-flat feet and got into the Air Force (back in '88, got out in '99 due to a developed medical while in that is heriditary(sp)).

All you had to be was able to deploy.... ANYWHERE. Asmetics(sp), serious allergies were generally a cause of not being able to get in but you could get waivers depending on your skills that you could offer. Either that or they would bring you into the "service" as a civilian if your skills were seriously needed (you are "military" but not. You get all the perks, including base usage, clothing allowance, housing allowance, etc..).

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Old August 13, 2005, 04:51 PM   #13
joab
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Quote:
I'm color deficient
they have glasses that correct that now.

My father paid about $$800 for his.
He was ******, couldn't see what the big deal was
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Old August 13, 2005, 05:36 PM   #14
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Boy this hit home for me. My son who had childhood asthma, but hasen't been bothered with it since the age of 7-8 and also has hayfever joined the marines and left for parris island in may. His testing was done up in the wny area in the spring and he passed with flying colors exceeding all the requirements, we did have to sign an affidavit that he has been asthma free for the last 10-12 years and he was upfront about the hayfever also ( was told not to worry about it by the recruiter) His MOS was MP.
We'll things didn't go very well and a month later he was released with a fraudulent discharge. He had an asthma attack on the island, was treated for it, given a waver by the marines for the asthma then sent home by the Navy Doc's for steroid use. (thier treatment for it)

I guess my point would be if he had gone down there under the cooler months, there wouldn't have been a problem, but the end of may and june with 90degrees and 90% humidity every day didn't help the cause.

Funny how the recruiter's backtracked on many items, nothing was fraudulent,k it was all documented up front.

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Old August 13, 2005, 08:26 PM   #15
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The above story reminded me of something that happened to me. I work in healthcare administration for a large clinic. I was called out of the blue one day by a Lt. Commander in the Navy JAG. He was working on a medical disability case. It turns out that a young recruit had active asthma, but did not disclose this and was able to enlist. He made it all the way through boot camp and was in 'A' school, when he had a serious attack.

It turns out that the recruit was a childhood patient at my clinic. When he enlisted, he got a copy of his medical chart from us and submitted it as evidence that he was asthma-free for many years. It turns out that he enlisted at 18, and as a matter of fact, had a severe asthma attack at age 17. He went though his medical records, and deleted any mention of any asthma attacks since age ten and submitted the altered copy. When the medical disability board met, they had requested a copy of my clinic chart and compared the two. So the Commander was calling me to explain the discrepancy.

I actually had to go downtown to Seattle to testify over a video hookup for a hearing being held in San Diego. My wife, the retired Chief, explained that the Navy was trying to discharge him on the basis of a fraudulent enlistment, but he was trying to get a medical discharge for a service-connected disability. I don't know how the case turned out, but she told me that he was most probably given a less than honorable discharge for the fraudulent enlistment. She said that once I had testified that the copy of the chart the recruit has submitted was incomplete, the jig was up for him. Clearly, the young man wanted to be in the military very much, and I was sad at the way things had turned out for him.
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Old August 14, 2005, 04:05 AM   #16
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I think we can all agree on 1 answer...

it depends. Talk to a recruiter, given the military's current situation, they'll find a way to at least get you to MEPS for a physical. Try to ace the ASVAB and any other test they give you to up your chances. Of course some things (spec ops, flight status, etc.) may still be out of the question. Was that vague enough?
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Old August 14, 2005, 06:58 AM   #17
joab
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Clearly, the young man wanted to be in the military very much, and I was sad at the way things had turned out for him.
Yes but he ended up trying to milk the system for a free ride,
How in the world could asthma be a service related disability, can bad food and funny clothes cause respiratory ailments?
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Old August 14, 2005, 09:17 AM   #18
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I agree... I felt really bad for that kid right up until the part where basically tried to rip off the military.
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Old August 14, 2005, 11:39 AM   #19
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You can get in with allergies. I'm allergic to shellfish. They gave me a red allergy tag to wear with my dog tags. They served shrimp at the DFAC (Dining Facility) at Benning a couple of times. I just showed the people serving my tag and they gave me something else. Or, I was just missing something on my tray and was more hungry than the next guy in line.

I had childhood asthma. I went in the Army on a waiver. My recruiting Sgt gave me E2 (Private w/ 1 chevron) b/c of my college credits. He told me if I could pass the physical requirements necessarry to graduate Basic, he'd give me E3 (Private 1st Class). I scored over 180 on his pseudo APFT (Army Physical Fitness Test).

I graduated with honors from my 14 weeks of OSUT (One Station Unit Training), which is Basic and AIT (Advanced Individual Training) rolled into one location for Infantry. I shot 39/40 on the rifle range and earned Expert Marksman; I missed a 50 yard target...lol.

I was slated to go to Airborne School, then the 75th Ranger Regiment for RIP (Ranger Indoctrination Program), and finally, Ranger School if I passed RIP. But, while at a Receiving and Holding Unit at Benning and waiting a few weeks to go to Airborne School...I had a problem.

There were only a few of us in RHU that were going on to further training. The rest of the kids there were going home because they either didn't like the Army and were screw ups, or they had some kind of ailment keeping them from staying in the Army. Those of us who were going to AB School were allowed to go out and do PT so we wouldn't get flabby.

We were just running to stay in shape and I noticed I couldn't hardly sing cadence and run at the same time. I just ignored it. I started to lag behind. The others looked at me funny and asked if I was ok. I said I was fine, caught up, and kept running...which was a bad idea. Before I knew it, I was in the hospital with tubes in my nose with a Major filling out my discharge papers. I don't even remember falling out. There's a blank spot between me shrugging off my problem and waking up in the hospital. Atleast I got to ride in a real Humvee, even if I don't remember.

From my personal experience, yes you can get in the Army with asthma. Whether or not you can stay in the Army, with asthma, is subjective.
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Old August 14, 2005, 06:32 PM   #20
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I worked for recruiting command recently

and the answer is no. Admit to shortness of breath, wheezing or that you even think you had asthma will get you DQ'ed at the physical and the recruiter should never have sent you up if you told him/her.
Find out for yourself- call a recruiting office and ask. SOme may ask you to come in to go "over it" which means they want to see if you are a good candidate to conceal it. If that happens call another branch of the military.
BT
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