Those who want to enlist in the military need to have a certain level of health and physical fitness which can be a major concern for people with diabetes. Fortunately, the latest treatments are making it a bit easier to join or remain in the military service if you have diabetes. Discover more about diabetes in the military and what it may mean to you.
- When you join the military it is essential to disclose all the information you have about your medical history or you could face penalties. First you must pass a military medical exam. There are multiple health conditions that can disqualify a person from joining the U.S. Military. Diabetes that is deemed to require ongoing medical treatment is one of them. If a doctor states that you can control your diabetes with only diet and exercise you may be able to join the military with administrative approval.
- If you get diabetes after you have been approved to serve in the military, you may not automatically be retired from service. More than a million people who were formally diagnosed with diabetes are still in the military. Most of them have diabetes type 2 though a small percentage has diabetes type 1. It may raise concerns when a service member is unable to maintain an A1C level below 7 percent. His or her medical fitness will be checked and recommendations made about the proper care and treatment for the patient’s condition.
- The majority of military members with type 2 diabetes has an elevated body-mass index, is obese, older and is more likely to be African American or Hispanic. Having a history of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), an anxiety disorder due to an extremely stressful event, puts a person at a greater risk for developing diabetes. A well-balanced diet and regular exercise help military members maintain better health, a lower weight and their military benefits.
- Serving in the military may produce anxiety and stress. You may need to leave your family behind for months, face life-or-death situations or move often. Fortunately, there are resources to help you and your loved ones. Take advantage of the deep discounts offered at the military commissaries to get fresh fruits and vegetables, fish, lean meat, low fat-dairy items and whole grains.
- Visit the gym at the military base and engage in the outdoor recreational opportunities provided to military members and their families. Exercise and a healthy diet will help reduce the risk of developing diabetes type 2 and can minimize stress. If you are constantly experiencing tension use a blood pressure monitor to check your blood pressure. If your blood pressure is high or you have ongoing feelings of anxiety, talk to your health care provider or a counselor.
- Health care is available for military members, retirees and their families through the TRICARE system. Visits to the doctor and hospital are covered as well as preventative services and prescription medications. Your diabetes supplies might also be covered along with group diabetes classes and self-management programs. Talk to the Veterans Administration (VA) about available programs that could help you prevent or manage diabetes.
- Consider consulting with a dietitian or a diabetes nurse educator to discover more about proper diet and fitness. Maintaining a healthy weight can help prevent type 2 diabetes. Consult with your administrator about health benefits and programs you may qualify for that could help you stay healthy and remain in the service for years to come.
It is important to stay healthy to qualify for the military and remain an active service member. Veterans and their families qualify for a variety of wellness programs and care and treatment options. Take advantage of these services for good health and a great career.