Medical Question - military service with Crohn's Disease?

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THEKEEB17

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Unread post13 Jan 2005, 09:12

Hello,

(I hope this is the right section for my post. My apologies if it is not)

I stumbled opon this forum a few weeks ago and have been reading it ever since. Great forum !

I'm not usually one to post on forums (I'd much rather read and learn...), however, I have a question that I'm hoping someone on here can answer, or at least point me in the right direction....

I'm an 18 year old college student working towards a degree in Aeronautical Science. Like most everyone on this forum I've had a lifelong love of aviation and a dream to fly in the Air Force. However, a few years ago I was diagnosed with Crohn's Disease and told I was ineligible for any type of military service.

I'm just wondering if anyone can tell me if military service, in any capacity, is out of the question. I've been told by many of the ex Air Force pilots I know to try and get into the Guard or Reserves. But I assume the medical restrictions would be the same as Active Duty Units? I've pretty much ruled out any chance of flying in the military, but would still love to serve in any way I can. I'll pursue a career in flying in the civilian world.

This question is probably a long shot, as Crohn's Disease isn't well known by any means, but I figured it was worth a try. Any help (especially from a Flight Surgeon) would be most appreciated.

Thanks !

- Tyler Q.
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magnetass

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Unread post13 Jan 2005, 11:13

I'm "just" a paramedic, but I would imagine that any kind of "chronic" illness that could require frequent medical attention, especially if it involves having to miss regular duty assignments would disqualify somebody from military service, at least initially. Having said that, I know the reservists I met in Iraq had some different maladies, incl. one who was a type II diabetic, diet controlled. One had 7 or 8 different meds and another had angioplasty several years ago.

I was disqualified from flight training for a benign idiopathic sinus arrythmia....my heart skips occasionally, and 20/40 eyesight.

Its heartbreaking when your body betrays your dreams, but sometimes things work out. I was positive after I was DQed that my life was a hollow shell, (plus I was stuck with a useless degree....history) but I found something that I love and couldn't imagine doing anything else.

It wasn't in the cards for you looks like, but remember, the boat you are in is full of people who never got to fly jet fighters and still managed to lead extraordinary lives.

Aviation physiology is harsh, and the rules are fairly inflexible, but nothing says you can't keep pushing if you want to.

Good luck

Scott
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THEKEEB17

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Unread post14 Jan 2005, 00:40

Magnetass (Scott),

Thanks a lot for your response. I really appreciate you taking the time to reply, and for your encouragement.
Any advice/encouragement helps (especially from someone in the medical field).

Hearing that there are people with Type II diabetes in the service is somewhat encouraging, as my illness is not quite as serious. Hopefully, if I stay in good health and keep off my meds, I might have a better shot at getting in.

Do you, or anyone else out there, know if theres is a specific job field(s) within the Guard or Reserves (Amy or Air Force) which may be more lenient on medical restrictions? Perhaps this question is naive and unrealistic, but I've had several people suggest this to me.

Thanks again for your help !



Tyler
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MATMACWC

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Unread post17 Jan 2005, 00:13

Sorry dude, my buddy came down with that disease in IFF and he no longer flies. Maybe a second opinion? :?:
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chickenlegs

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Unread post20 Jan 2005, 04:30

I suggest that you ask a recruiter or reference material on the internet. My son has ulcerative colitus and read (he wants to be a marine) that taking medication for a previous condition could be a cause for rejection. I'm sorry this response is pretty lame but I've got to believe getting a hold of a recruiter or searching on the internet might help. I myself have controlled ulcerative colitus that was diagnosed 14 years ago. Was not and is not cause for dismissal in my current maintenance career field but could be another issue in the flying career fields. At one time I wanted to be a load master/flight engineer but depth perception not worth a crap.
Have a great day!
Chickenlegs
F-4E, T-38, A-7D, F-16C Crew Chief, QA, & Other
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THEKEEB17

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Unread post20 Jan 2005, 10:00

Chickenlegs,

Thanks a lot for your post! Definately not lame by any means!

Talking to a recruiter is definately my next course of action. I've been scouring the internet for information on Crohn's Disease/Ulcerative Colitus in the military for a while and continue to do. I'm trying to gather as much information as I can before I talk to a recruiter, and hoping to find a definitive answer as to whether or not I am even eligible for military service. (Wishful thinking?.....)

You're the first person I've heard from who actually has an illness similiar to mine and has stayed in the military. I have a couple of questions for you, if you don't mind me asking.....

I'd like to know if you've been able to keep your ulcerative colitus under control for the most part, and what, if anything, you have had to do to stay in the military (I'm assuming your active duty?). Finally, not sure if you know this or not, but do you think there is a better chance of getting in/staying in the military if I went into the a field other than flying, such as Intelligence or Military Police?

Sorry to bombard you with questions. I'd appreciate any help you could give me !

Thanks for your help and best of luck to your son in his quest to join the Marines.

Regards,

Tyler
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IDCrewDawg

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Unread post20 Jan 2005, 14:28

THEKEEB17 - My spouse has your condition, so I know quite alot about it. One of the questions that will be posed is when was the last time you were seen by a doctor to treat your condition, and what severity is it. This is the case for any special medical situation. One of the things about the military is that all rules can be waivered if the person signing the waiver can be convinced that it will be okay. The other thing to consider is mobility, if your condition is going to affect your ability to be deployed then yes it will bear on what carrer you get when commiting to a military carrer. So getting a non-flying position will give you better chances at joining the service. My recomendation though, is avoid the three C's of the military. Cops Cooks and CrewChiefs, (yes I am a CrewChief) these carreers are very streesfull, and highly deployable, as with your condition stress is a large factor in your helth.

I wish you luck in your endevor, and even if you don't get into the military as a military member, there are plenty of positions that provide service as a civil servant, so check there as well.
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chickenlegs

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Unread post21 Jan 2005, 02:29

THEKEEB17

I've had a few flare ups but was treated and able to continue with my duties. I'm in the Guard by the way and had to get my civilian doctor to vouch for the seriousness or lack thereof in performing my duties. I'm a full time technician with the F-16's (flightchief) at Buckley AFB. When I was originally diagnosed I was a crew chief 14 years ago. As long as the illness was controlled, no problem. Though I have to agree with IDCrewDawg with his comments....

Being a crewchief can be a self rewarding job with lots of good and bad experiences. Yes, it can be stressful. Your history of treatment for Crohn's will be the determining factor on whether they'll take you in any career field.

Have a great day!
Chickenlegs
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eric_forman

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Unread post23 Jan 2005, 04:49

Hey,

I have got that oto, I was diagnosed when I was a young viper pilot. I dont fly for the U.S. so I dont know how much this will help you: in my country (and it ain't a third world country, I promise you..), you can't join a fighting position if you have that, but if you get diagnosed after you get your wings then it all depends on your condition.

I have a mils condition, and my deal with the military doctors is: if I can handle it- they back me up and I keep flying. I take medical tests every 6 month, so they know how I'm doing... doing good so far :wink:

Good luck
eric.
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THEKEEB17

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Unread post02 Feb 2005, 08:47

Hello all,

Just wanted to thank everyone for their responses to my question, and for all the sound advice and encouragement.

Thank you all for taking the time to respond, I really appreciate it.

I'd appreciate any aditional information and/or advice anyone may have.

Thanks again,

- Tyler
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Cylon

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Unread post03 Feb 2005, 04:02

Had a student in IFF, when I was a flight commander, who found out while he was there that he had this: He walked through the doors of the 63rd FS at Luke about 2 weeks ago... He had a few months of dealing with docs and all, but apparently some folks can fight it. I'm no doctor.... but he's gonna fly Vipers, or at least learn to.

NEVER SAY NEVER.

Cylon
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THEKEEB17

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Unread post18 May 2005, 06:24

Well, I finally contacted a Guard (Army) recruiter a couple of weeks ago....

I had only talked with him briefly on the phone a couple of times to schedule an in person appointment with him; he called me back about a day or two before our appointment and informed me that Crohn's Disease is a disqualification for military service. I'm bummed to say the least....

He stated that if I had been diagnosed while I was in the military, things might have been different, and provided I could keep my condition under control, would probably have been allowed to stay in.

My question is this: Should I take this "No" for an answer? Or should I keep fighting to get in?

I'm in complete remission, have no symptoms, take only mild doses of medication (and am eventually going to be completely off of them), am in otherwise good physical condition, and have a favorable prognosis from my doctors. I really didn't get the chance to explain all of this to my recruiter, which may have possibly made a difference. He was helpful and all, but really didn't look into my condition whatsoever.

I am thinking of writing my Congressmen and Senators in the hopes possibly gaining some help from them. (Wishful thinking??) And am also exploring any other avenue that might give me a second chance.

Does anyone have any suggestions on what else to do? Should I keep fighing to get into the military? Or am I being selfish for trying to get in when I've already been told I'm not eligible?

I apologize for such a long post. I really appreciate all the help I've received on this forum, you all have been great. Any advice or input whatsoever would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks in advance.

- Tyler
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IDCrewDawg

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Unread post19 May 2005, 04:11

Tyler - Never Give up on your dream. Just because some punk recruiter didn't do his job and tell you that you disqualify because of a mild intestinal problem is no reason to quit. Call him back and tell him that you have heard that it can be waviered and would like to know what the process is for doing that. If he gives you an answer of "I'll have to get back with you" or "no it's not waiverable" write your congressman, be respectfull, and indicate that your life wouldn't be complete untill you get the chance to serve your country. Additionally, have your teachers send in at the same time some charater letters indicating that it has been your dream, and it seems it's all you can talk about.
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chickenlegs

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Unread post19 May 2005, 04:31

Talk to another recruiter as well! The issue might be that your still taking medication for CROHNS. Ask if being on the medication prior to enlistment is the issue or if you haven't been off of it long enough. My son said he read something that stated that you couldn't be taking any meds at least two years prior to enlistment. Have the recruiter put in a inquiry and ask for a response in writing. Good Luck! Chickenlegs
F-4E, T-38, A-7D, F-16C Crew Chief, QA, & Other
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THEKEEB17

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Unread post20 May 2005, 04:51

Thank you all for your encouragement. I really appreciate it.

I just received a call from the Army National Guard's 1800 number, it was some secretary or someone trying to get into contact with me to see how my appointment with the recruiter went. Seeing as how my appointment was cancelled and I have nothing to tell them, I think that it might be a good opportunity to ask them about a second opinion.

I've been looking into potential waivers, etc, extensively the last couple of days, hoping to gather some more info before I call them back; I want to be a little better prepared this time. I was reading up on About.com and found out some intersting things. The writer for About.com stated that you should "treat the recruiter with common courtesy" and "not waste his time if you are not qualified for enlistment". It also gave some info about the Waiver process, stating that if the Medical Prescreener tells the recruiter that you are not qualified to join, then its basically the end of the road for you. However, the article seems to contradict itself by saying that the recruiter can appeal to the Medical Prescreener and ask for a waiver, on a case by case basis. It went even further to say that if enlistment goals are not being met, you may have a better chance. Finally, it said that the Guard can grant waivers that the active duty branches sometimes wouldn't even consider.

To be honest, I'm a little embarrassed to talk to the recruiter again, especially after reading this article talking about not wasting his time if you are already disqualified; but I want the chance to serve so much that its worth it to me.

Does anyone know how I might go about getting a different recruiter? He's the only of the only Army National Guard recruiters in my area, so it seems like my options are limited. I'm thinking I might be able to talk to someone up in Sacramento, which is close to me, but in a different county.

If anyone has any other suggestions or advice that would help me out, I'd appreciate the input.

Thanks a lot for all your help.

- Tyler
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