Diabetes - Type 1 Community
2.55k Members
Avatar universal

Working in the military as a diabetic?

I read an answer to a question about joining the military as a diabetic and the answer was a resounding NO. However I was wondering if diabetics would be accepted as non-combat positions. Example: Could I join the military and go through basic training as a diabetic, but go into something other than combat so that the complications of combat would be eliminated? Thanks for any answers.

Secondary: When diabeties is cured (I wish every day) would it be a clean cut cure where there would be no further medical needs, therefore allowing cured diabetics to serve in the military? Again, thanks for any helpful information.
26 Responses
Avatar universal
My spouse is a military personnel officer, and I asked him this question, even though I think that I know the answer. He replied that because he is not a recruiter and has not been asked this question personally, he cannot state the answer without doubt. However, he suspects that the answer is still "no". The reason is that the military services are not interested in taking people with ANY kind of pre-existing medical condition, not only because of danger in a combat situation, but also because of the costs of medical care for the rest of that person's life.

I do know that if a person is diagnosed as type 1 while active duty, he or she may be able to stay active duty IF his or her job does not require combat duty. Now this is true only in some cases, and in some branches of the military. I know some medical personnel (doctors) who have developed diabetes and who are active duty, while other people I know have been discharged from the service after being diagnosed. If a person develops diabetes when already in the military, it really depends on his or her job as far as whether he or she can stay on active duty.

So, while we suspect that the answer is "no", the only way to be sure is to give your local recruiter a call. The recruiters would be the best people to answer this question. They are more than willing to talk with you, and they know all of the rules about eligibility.

As for your second question, we cannot speculate at this point, for we really do not know what form a cure will take until it happens. At this point, there is research going on that involves trying to re-grow beta cells, and of course, this would be a true cure. In the meantime, there may be stop-gaps that come along that are partial cures or improvements to how we treat type 1 diabetes today, and of course we would accept these if they improved our health. We just have to wait and see what becomes available and how the military treats it when it happens. Let's hope it is soon.
Avatar universal
I know your not 100% sure, but thank you so much for such a quick respons and thorough answer. It is dissapointing that they are so discriminating against ANY medical condition. I do wonder if they take into conserderation your value to them however. I would in no way like to brag about myself, but I am very inteligent and I have been in all of the top Honors and A.P. classes in High School, so I wonder if my value to them could outweigh medical costs for diabeties. I can only hope, right? I will try to talk to a recruiter at some point to know for sure. Though what I have heard from here and other people makes me a little depressed. :(
Avatar universal
Ares, your intelligence DOES make you valuable. I have suggested this to other people who have written to us about military service, and I want to suggest it again... my spouse and I have been part of the Air Force for 26 years now, and I am amazed at how many jobs that used to be done by active duty personnel are now done by civilians. Any working base is made up of many more civilians than active duty. The civilians rise in rank as they progress just like the active duty folks, and I even knew one high-ranking civilian who was a Squadron Commander!!! So check out the civilian jobs for the nearest military base. They can accept diabetics, and the benefits are wonderful -- great health coverage, the opportunity to travel if you want to, and a real service to your country. There are civilians in just about every area of the military working machine. No, the civilians do not wear the uniform, but the civilians are really the bulk of the military organization nowadays. This is because when the Cold War ended, numbers of Active Duty started being cut, and they are still being cut. My husband was 3 years at a large base in the midwest as a Group Commander, and he was asked to cut his active duty forces 2 times during this short 3-year time frame. What do they do when the active duty numbers are cut? They contract the jobs out to civilians. The jobs don't go away, but they are just done by civilians. You will be surprised at how many civilian jobs there are on any mlitary base. Please do check it out.

I am a type 1 diabetic, and have been since childhood. I have had civilian jobs on military bases, and am proud to state that every young Air Force pilot-to-be is learning to fly right now using illustrations and animations that I created as a civilian contractor for the Air Force. My diabetes was not an issue at all. I do wish you the very best.
Avatar universal
The above posters are all correct.  Unfortunately, you'll never get to wear the uniform.  That's just the way it is.  Diabetes is one of many medical conditions that will automatically preclude you from active duty in the military.  Just like it prohibits you from being a commercial pilot or truck driver.  Although we like to think we're able bodied and can serve .... in reality, we would be a liability to the safety of those around us.  There are technically no non-combat roles.  Even the lowest cook or mechanic or clerk or dentist has to be prepared and able to serve on the line if armed bodies are needed.  If you try to hide the fact, it'll come out in your physical and you'll get a medical discharge before you even reach the bus to  basic training.  Heaven help you if you make it to basic and then they find out you knowingly neglected to inform them.  If you want to work in the military - seek employment with defense contracting firms which are actively involved within the military establishment.  You'll be well compensated for your work and as any career military personnel will tell you - you won't have to put up with even half of the B.S. military personnel have to grin and bear.
Avatar universal
I very much understand the disappointment of youngsters with Type 1 (IDDM) at not being allowed to serve in the military.  One's military service is often the most significant period in the whole life of a veteran.  I was a nuclear submarine officer who had completed six years of active service and was in the reserves when I developed Type 1 in my late 20s.  I had to resign from the naval reserves as a direct result.

Understandably, no one has been or ever will be allowed entry to the military services who was known to be Type 1.  I have been interested in the stories of Type 1 diabetics who have been allowed to remain in the service in the past 25 years.  I know of only two cases, but likely there have been others.  One was a musician, the other was a cryptographer.  Both held very specialized positions, and both had to muster considerable political influence (senators, congressmen, etc.) to be allowed to remain in service.  Their being allowed to remain in service was grossly unfair to the great majority of those who develope Type 1 diabetes while in the military who are forced out.  But let me state my opinion clearly.  Type 1 diabetes is plainly and uncontestably disqualifying for military service.  Anyone who is familiar with the military AND Type 1 DM knows this.  There should NEVER be any relaxation of the requirements that military servicemen of any specialty, combat or non-combat, be FULLY medically fit.

I consider myself extremely lucky that my Type 1 developed after I had completed my active military service.  I do very much sympathize with all the young Type 1 people who won't be allowed to join a military service.  But they should already know by now that life isn't fair.
Avatar universal
I joined the Air Force on 18Sep00.  I developed Type I diabetes on 11Jul04.  I am insulin dependant on a pump and could not have tighter control on my situation.  Since my initial MEB I have not had any problems with staying in the military.  Each case is different.  Just because you are a diabetic doesn't mean you will be automatically kicked out.  I work on nuclear missles and the subsystems.  Any monkey could do my job.  It doesn't matter who you know or what job you have, fight to stay in if you want.  Don't lay down and accept a discharge.  
777075 tn?1235618300
Go online and look up sfc mark thompson and you'll see that it can be done.Mark Thompson was sent for a full year to iraq as a type 1 diabetic, finished the tour and was given the bronze star
Avatar universal
does anyone know about joining military with type 2 diabetes and being insulin-dependant?
Avatar universal
I really have a hard time understanding why the military doesn't allow diabetics but other jobs with physical activity do. Law enforcement or fire fighting are good examples.  Its almost 2010 and I still feel as thought that treatment situations aren't like they were in the 1920's or even 1950's and hope that people don't still think that.  
Its like being discriminated against even without having any sort of a chance or ability to prove one's self because of old mind sets.
Things are extremely different.  They even have pumps now that mimic a pancreas.  Sometimes I keep thinking that a group of people with these situations should get together some how and possibly organize into some sort of group with permission of the us government and or local national guard or something like that to create a group of people that would be willing to go through some sort of test situation to let people try and or prove themselves.  This might sound strange but here's what I would be thinking:

All type one people participating should be on pump therapy.
All people must be on a guided exercise plan with appropriate measures engaged to certify standards that meet or exceed whats done in current situations that the military does for PT.
Certain types of standards for a1c type testing should be met over time as to what sugar levels are.  Heck the RCMP in Canada allows diabetics if you prove that you are under good control.

I'm sure there could be more added to this situation and or statements but this is just a big brain storm session that just came to me.  I guess I'm just tired of thinking that no one is listening to our situations.  I know the legal complexity is probably big but I think there's a lot of people out there that would be willing to try this under certain types of waivers.  I see so many posts out there where people want to do things like this all over but feel as though its not possible but inside of themselves they know its possible.  

Sometimes I feel as though that diabetics are healthier people than regular people.  Just wished that someone out there would give us a chance.

Avatar universal
Diagnosed with type I 8 years ago, been a long time dream of mine to join the United States Navy/Army and become a US Navy SEAL or Delta operative. I've talked to recruiters and it's impossible for me to join any branch of the military, never mind special forces. I was really disappointed    for a long time, but i finally moved on and focused on something new in my life. Maybe the government and country will actually take care of its people and start using stem cells for a possible cure.        
Avatar universal
I was in the Canadian Forces as a Combat Engineer, but shortly after my basic I was diagnosed with type 1...The military really does not make exceptions, thus I was medically released from service; with absolutely no hope, short of a complete cure, of rejoining. It *****, I know the army is a great career, and when you have this chronic disease, that career becomes impossible to do, even when you have complete control of your sugars...But most police services will still consider you, that could be just as rewarding... :)
Avatar universal
I know that you are hoping for a cure. As am I. I am a type 1 diabetic who is interested in joining the military as well. If you are depending on a cure to get in, Dont hold your breath, The JDRF and the ADA do absolutely nothing. They don't want to cure diabetes, It's bad for business. If diabetes is cured people like you and I will no long have to pay for their supplies for the rest of our lives. Dr. Faustman is a private doctor raising money and has a possible cure. The ADA and JDRF attacked and called her a fraud. She's our best hope.
Avatar universal
My husband was just diagnosed this past week with type 1 diabetes.  He is active duty Army.  We have already been made aware of the medical review board.  My husband has an excellent record with no discipline problems.  He is a mechanic with 13 years of service.  He is 6 ft. and weights 160lbs.  He always passes PT tests and has no problem with any physical activity at work.  He is an E5. He wants to stay in the Army.  Right now he takes a shot of insulin once a day.   Can anyone tell me how likely that is and what can we do to help make that happen?  Who can we get help from in the service or in the civilian world?  I am so scared we will lose all he has worked so hard for up to this point.
Hello! I know your post is quite old however I was hoping to find out what happened with your husband career in the military?
My husband has been in for 21 years and is an O4.
He was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes about 5 years ago but as of yesterday he is now on viscosta. (A pen)  however it’s not your typical insulin pen and they didn’t end up changing his diagnosis to type one.  With that being said I’m just trying to find out from other military members and or spouses what I should expect.  Thanks so much in advance for words of wisdom, advice or answers
Avatar universal
Im like many others diabetic and i was wondering about that Dr you mentioned. Where is she from? How is her research?
Avatar universal
The only 'real' non-combatant in the military is a Chaplin. Everyone else regardless of MOS is an infantry man first. It doesn't matter what job you train for. Chaplin's are always officers with a bachelor's degree. I personally have never met a diabetic Chaplin so far. I am a medic and I will tell you why I am pretty certain why diabetics are not allowed to join the military. You have to be able to deploy. If you are not you cannot join. There is no saying I just want to join but, never go overseas. Diabetics are non-deployable because during wartime it is hard sometimes to get medications and medical supplies shipped out to units that need them. Diabetes controled with insulin or medication is a life-threatening condition. What happens when you run out of meds and no meds have arrived? It is a liablity.
1272685 tn?1309051818
Understand about people carying for diabetics saftey and such. I am in the Civail Air Patrol, as at encampment last month on the 9th on a millitary base. They had too watch me carfully for lows. But....diabetics get turned down from being able too have the pleasur of serving their country...and doing a good job. I myself am not excited nor do I really care for a desk job, and I hate it when people tell me that is what I should do. I have the same capabilities as most people do. I am 14 years old, 5'11 and weight 121 and work out almost every day. One thing is : People who as well say "Chase your dreams..!" I can't fight the government, and what good is it because noone will ever listen. Tryed and haven't gotten any - where.... Any suggestions on something too do? Because I don't want too stick in the CAP forever, and don't want to be in the USCG Aux.  /Sigh...
Avatar universal
I am 17 years of age and was diagnosed with type 1 at the age of 11 in 5th grade. My whole life iv wanted to join the army actually (seals). I am now about to graduate from highschool and now realize I blew my whole highschool careers away to join. Now I honestly don't know what I'm going to do. What happend to be all you can be. And. Eing able to live out your dream cause it sure ain't happening for me.
Avatar universal
i think the national guard should accept type 1 it is techenally a state service sorry bad spelling

                                                                                                         diabetic who wants to b in the coastguard
Avatar universal

Avatar universal
I am 15, recently diagnosed with T1D. My whole life it has been to protect the ones i love, and now i cant even do that. I had pre-acceptances to the USAFA. I was going to be an F-15 fighter pilot, but was stricken with this. . .disease. I really feel like i have nothing to live for, besides my girlfriend. I really need to know if I can still join.  
Avatar universal
This story is truly inspirational to anyone who hopes in joining the military with Type1 Diabetes. It tells the story of a marine who showed perserverince to stay in the military.
Avatar universal
So i have been wanting to join the army air force or whatever.. But I dont want to be active duty.. No matter what I keep getting told that no I can not join.. I am so confused. Can you plus help? Give me info to someone who knows what they are talking about.. I am 22 years old a type one diabetic and I want to better my life and make sure I am going to live beyond what the statics say about diabetes..
Avatar universal
The Bottom line is that if you're diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes before you get the chance to enlist in any branch of the military you're automatically ineligible to join. If it happens while you're already active duty, realistically you still have a fighting chance to remain on active duty. Truth is from the time you're first diagnosed, you have time on your side.  The current MEB/PEB or medical board process takes forever. As long as you're not in a combat MOS you have time to get your blood sugar levels and A1C under control. I was told an I'm active duty Army who got diagnosed with type 1 5 months ago that your A1C needs to be at or below a 6.5. If you can get it there and combine passing your P.T. test with recommendation letters from your chain of command, you'll have a very convincing case to present to the medical board. Not to mention, you might bring up the fact that one of the leading spokespersons for the National Diabetes Association is an active duty E-7 in the army who has since deployed after being diagnosed.
Avatar universal
I'm currently in the military myself and have been diagnosed with type one diabetes two months ago.   Thus my career will end shortly against my will.  I'm 26 and this has been my life plan.   It ***** i know but at least you have the option now while your still young(trust me you are) to decide on a career.   What else can i say but life ***** and ain't fair.      

Be the man you want to be,  without the Army.  Keep your Pride
Avatar universal
I am 16 and went down to ask about joining army and cause Im diabetic type 1 I cant join but Im really fit training all time and dont want to waste my time doing what all my friends do like smoke and drink I would rather join the army and help everyone but if I cant could I do anything else like be a engineer or something please only thing Im clever at is training ???
1353681 tn?1387087333
Hi, My sis has been diabetic for a long time...her Dr. said to her a long time ago that the only thing that could be a no no is being a pilot. And I believe direct combat is a no but times might've changed. She also wishes there was a cure every day b/c is not doing that well. Her dr promised her a cure within 5 -10 yrs...that was 17 yrs ago and the dr recently said they're not really much closer to a cure :/ Very sorry as it is a terrible disease.
Have an Answer?
Top Diabetes Answerers
231441 tn?1333896366
Manila, Philippines
Learn About Top Answerers
Didn't find the answer you were looking for?
Ask a question
Popular Resources
Here are three summertime recipes that will satisfy your hunger without wreaking havoc on your blood sugar.
If you have prediabetes, type 2 diabetes isn’t inevitable. Find out how you can stop diabetes before it starts.
Diabetes-friendly recipes and tips for your game day party.
Are there grounds to recommend coffee consumption? Recent studies perk interest.
Simple ways to keep your blood sugar in check.
8 blood sugar-safe eats.