When people with chronic diseases such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) want to enlist in a military branch, they wonder if they will be accepted with their condition.
The short answer is that in some cases you may be able to join the military when you have a history of IBS.
There is a process for health disclosure as well as a medical examination prior to joining. It is not possible to receive confirmation that you will be able to join the military until you have submitted your health information and completed the required physical examination.
Talk To Your Recruiter
Let your recruiter know about your IBS condition during the recruitment process. If it is well-controlled, you have a good chance of being accepted into the military. Basic training is very strenuous. When a chronic disease is likely to interfere with basic training, you many be rejected.
If you are unable to function without medication, the chances are excellent that you will be disqualified. Bathroom breaks are scheduled during basic and you will not be allowed to leave your post if you are experiencing diarrhea.
Severe constipation is grounds for going on sick call. If you have experienced either of these on a regular basis, the doctor who conducts the medical exam will not okay your appointment.
A determination about your ability to serve is codified by the Department of Defense.
The Physical Standards for Appointment, Enlistment, and Induction and the Criteria and Procedure Requirements, issued by the DOD as Directive 6130.3 and 6130.4 respectively, require the following for all new recruits:
1. They must have no contagious disease that could threaten the health and welfare of their fellow soldiers.
If you suspect that your IBS is due to a bacterial infection or a virus, arrange for an examination by your personal physician before going forward with the recruitment process.
If your chronic condition can be treated prior to enlistment, your chances of successfully completing the recruitment process will be significantly improved. You should disclose this history of IBS even if it is no longer an existing medical condition.
2. Medical conditions or existing disabilities that would require excessive amounts of time spent away from the performance of their duties for hospital treatment or to secure medical treatment that is deemed necessary will be cause for separation from the military due to a determination of medical unfitness.
In short, the military needs their soldiers fit for duty. If your IBS is not well-controlled, you will not be able to perform to their satisfaction.
3. Recruits must be physically capable of completing the required training. IBS can interfere with a recruit’s ability to complete basic training. It is an intensive program and bathroom use is only allowed during scheduled breaks.
In cases where an excessive build-up of gas is the only symptom of IBS, the determination may be made that you are physically capable of completing basic.
4. There can be no geographic relocation restrictions due to medical conditions. Members of the military may be called to serve in a wide variety of settings during the course of their career.
If you must have access to specific doctors or hospitals to treat your IBS, you will not be eligible to serve.
Additionally, if you must always remain in close proximity to medical services located anywhere in the world, your deployment to remote areas with no medical facilities will be prohibited.
5. The performance of duties should not worsen any existing medical conditions. The military can be a very stressful occupation.
Persons diagnosed with IBS frequently experience flare-ups when the stress level rises. If this is true in your case, the medical examination board may make the determination that you are not fit for service.
Whatever you do, don’t lie to the recruiter about your IBS. Everyone admitted into the military is expected to be forthcoming and truthful about their current and past medical history.
Your recruiter will ask you questions about the severity of your disease and give you his opinion about your chances. You won’t know for sure until the exam is completed and your medical records are reviewed.
When You Can Join The Military With IBS
People who have a history of IBS and have been able to manage it over a period of time through diet alone have a good chance of completing the recruitment process.
Don’t over-estimate your ability to make it through basic training without medication if you do not have IBS under good control at the time of enlistment.
Should you experience medical distress and miss too many of the scheduled training programs, you will either be discharged from the military or reassigned for additional training at a later date.
During your scheduled medical exam bring a detailed history of your IBS.
If you have had this chronic disease under good control over a long period of time, you will be expected to provide proof to back up your assertions.
Recruits who are undergoing treatment and experiencing successful management of the disease may delay the process to get it under better control prior to the medical examination.
It is possible that you will be allowed to join the military with IBS. To be successful, you must fully disclose your medical history and be able to prove that you can manage it without the use of medication.