Diabetes And The Army...

#1
Hi all,

I know that as a type one diabetic I am currently unable to join up. However, I would like to know if people though that I would be able to make it through RMA Sandhurst.

I ask this because I have been given a taster of military life through my school CCF and I would like to take it to the next level. However the military prevents this. I've had diabetes since the age of five (now eighteen) and I've learned to adapt to anything that I do as far as my medical needs go. Through my CCF I've been able to do several summer camps run by regular army cadet training teams and I've found that I was more than able to adapt and cope with the demands put on me by those camps.

More to the point, my CCF's commanding officer reckons that I could do it. A word about my CCF boss, he's a TA officer with experience of Iraq so I assume he knows what he's talking about and I trust him when he says that.

What I also know is that there have been trials conducted in Finland to determine whether military service could be completed by diabetics (this was as a part of the national service programme the Finns run) The study proved that the highly motivated ones who had a strong understanding of their condition were able to complete service without interruption. What is more, a higher percentage of diabetic conscripts were chosen for leadership training than non diabetic conscripts. I am in possesion of a copy of the short version of the report so if anyone were to want to read it I am more than willing to e-mail a copy to them. Just send me a private message with an e-mail address and I'll get it to you. Furthermore, I know of an American soldier who despite being a type one diabetic was deployed to Iraq in 2004. He was a careers advisor. However, I believe that diabetics would be much more suited to combat support arms of the army; those such as the Royal Artillery, Signals and Engineers. I believe that being an infantryman would not be possible. The Finnish study of which I speak was conducted on signallers. I will leave a link to a news article regarding the American soldier with diabetes at the bottom of the page.

What I would like are as many opinions as possible.

Many thanks for your time.

Link:

http://www.diabetes.org/diabetes-forecast/jul2005/back.jsp
 
#2
you might be able to get through training but what would you do if on ops you were at an FOB and unable to obtain the medication that you need, or match dietary intake with physical activity sufficiently to manage your condition?
on ops you would end up as a liability that would unecessarily endanger yourself and others.
 
#3
I know of two guys who were diagnosed with diabetes and both then became insulin(couple of jabs a day)dependant.Both of them had to change job roles but have gone on to have pretty successful careers.

Good luck
 
#4
Because of the 'never know' factor as to where you could be and what that might entail, I would have to answer, wilist you might make it through Sandhurst, as to you serving, my answer is, I'm sorry to say, 'no'.
 
#5
I think you'd have no problem if you're a sensible kinda chap who can mange his condition. i agree that the teeth arms is not the place for you though,however, i see no problems with a career in the support arms.Best of luck mate.
 
#6
JP47 said:
I know of two guys who were diagnosed with diabetes and both then became insulin(couple of jabs a day)dependant.Both of them had to change job roles but have gone on to have pretty successful careers.

Good luck
i know one myself, but these were already in, for a new recruit the answer would have to be no. the army is not going to spend thousands putting someone through basic and a trade course for them not to be deployable from day one
 
#7
batfink said:
JP47 said:
I know of two guys who were diagnosed with diabetes and both then became insulin(couple of jabs a day)dependant.Both of them had to change job roles but have gone on to have pretty successful careers.

Good luck
i know one myself, but these were already in, for a new recruit the answer would have to be no. the army is not going to spend thousands putting someone through basic and a trade course for them not to be deployable from day one
Agreed, sad but true. It has amputees in it, but it doesn't take them and put them through basic/Sandhurst.
 
#8
batfink said:
JP47 said:
I know of two guys who were diagnosed with diabetes and both then became insulin(couple of jabs a day)dependant.Both of them had to change job roles but have gone on to have pretty successful careers.

Good luck
i know one myself, but these were already in, for a new recruit the answer would have to be no. the army is not going to spend thousands putting someone through basic and a trade course for them not to be deployable from day one
Yes these lads were already serving.One a Lance jack and other a full screw at the time.

I think you have called that one right batfink.
 
#9
Developing a condition when enlisted is very different to joining up with it. JSP 346 says no, so the answer's no.

CCF is very different to real soldiering, and your OC's opinion is exactly that, based on his own experience, and thus should not be taken as gospel. If you go to university then you might be able to join the UOTC, but that's as far as it goes unfortunately, unless you want to continue with the cadet force as an AI.

It seems unfair but as pointed out there are good reasons for medical standards.
 
#11
Hi All,

Many thanks for your posts that you have left me to mull over.

I fully appreciate that CCF is vastly different to the real deal. I would like for people to read the link that I provided.

As far as management of diabetes goes it can be as difficult or as easy as the sufferer decides to make it. I personally go for the latter. It is very easy (for me at any rate) to judge what I need to do and then make a decision and act upon it. During the past thirteen years I have never been admitted to hospital as a direct result of diabetes nor for any side effects thereof.
My treatment consists of five injections a day; let me go into detail here. Two of these are absolute musts. They are the long acting twenty four hour insulin that allows the body to carry on working. The other three are short acting insulin which is designed to deal with the glucose produced from meals, if I don't eat I don't do the injection. It is very easy to adapt an insulin regime to whatever circumstances that I face. Being decisive is necesarry for this.
Regarding keeping me supplied with insulin on active service it is relatively easy to carry large amounts of what I would require with me. The only problem I could forsee would be keeping the insulin below thirty degrees celcius, however, as the article (link in first post) shows this is remarkably easy to achieve due to advances in technology over the past few years. In everyday life the stuff I take with me everywhere is pretty small and fits easily into a pocket but more importantly could keep my ticking over for a week.
Hypos I find are very quick and easy to treat. Eating to satisfy my energy demands would be reasonably simple I believe, there are techniques to ensure more accurate calculation of insulin doses (carbohyrate counting) which reduces the chances of hypos. Knowledge I already have suggests that I would need a reduced dose already due to activity, further reduction in dose is a question of being decisive.

Many thanks.
 
#12
cadetmong1990 said:
Regarding keeping me supplied with insulin on active service it is relatively easy to carry large amounts of what I would require with me.
And if you were captured by third-world nutjobs who will physically and mentally torture you, what then? Do you think they will understand your medical condition when they may not understand English?

You can put up all the evidence you like to support a case of why you should be given a chance to get in, and I admire and respect you for that, but in the cold light of day, they just don't cut it and aren't worth jack.
 
#13
Keeping someone on who is already in is one thing taking a recruit on is a diffrent thing altogether .Kit gets lost &broken .Some stuff can be replaced .They were not deploying anyone who needed regular medication
when I went and I stayed at large camp .Think medics would have had a fit if asked to deploy a diabetic .God luck in what ever you chose but doubt
the army want you.
 
#14
Cadetmong,

The military is the one of the very few employers left in the country that is exempt from conforming to the rules of the Disability Act that makes it illegal not to employ a person, specifically in the case we are discussing, with diabetes.

As a type 1 you will become too much of a liability to those you serve around and yourself. You think that it is easy to keep insulin cool? It isn't in the majority of places we are deployed at the moment and refrigeration isn't often available. There are a multiple of other reasons we could discuss (diet, injury implications, risk of hypos, additional logistic strain etc etc) but I see little point in going through them.

I like your spirit and positive approach to you condition but I'm sorry to say that the military just isn't going to be for you.

Before you sound off about me not knowing about it, can I say I now have first hand knowledge about this. As a newly diagnosed Type 2, I know far more than I ever wanted to. A diabetes lifestyle requirements, particularly a type 1, are incompatible with a life in the Forces.
 

copepod

Old-Salt
Book Reviewer
#15
I was a TA Nursing Officer for 4 years, I resigned, intending to emigrate, but while overseas, developed Type 1 Diabetes. I can definitely state that there is nothing I did in the TA, nor on expeditions before & since diagnosis (both hot and cold) that I could not do now - if I were given the chance. I can't comment on RMAS, as I didn't go, although I was on the first joint AMS Junior Officers course.

Refridgeration is not required for insulin - there are water activated cooling packs. As cadetmong states, a basal bolus regime is very flexible, with bolus doses only required with food, and basal doses varied according to activity, temperature, infection etc. In fact, it's more versatile than the dietary constraints of tablet or diet controlled Type 2 diabetes.

For anyone who doubts what people with diabetes can do, see http://diabetic.friendsinhighplaces.org/ (Mountains for Active Diabetics)

I suspect that many armed service medical staff choose service as they prefer to avoid the chronic conditions that dominate civilian medicine.
 
#16
I am also a TA nurse with a degree in diabetes care and I have done tours of Iraq and Afghanistan. Even in the support arms there is no guarantee that you will not find yourself in an extremely austere environment, this is no place for a person who relies on any type of medication to stay alive. That is why there is a health screening process in place on joining up.
As a mother of two sons in the military I can fully understand Cadetmongs passion to join our armed forces but realistically he cannot do this and the AI who has encouraged him and given him hope has unfortunately been misleading him.
There may be a place in the army for Cadetmong, as an AI with the cadets, his experience, enthusiasm and knowledge could be invaluable for this worthwhile role.
Cadetmong, I have met many people with diabetes and wish that some of them could have even a small amount of your attitude. It is unfair and unjust that someone with your zest for life has to live with this debilitating illness but I don’t think it stops you doing anything? If you want to challenge the system then go for it but be realistic and don’t waste in your energies in something that cannot be achieved.
 
#17
Hiya peeps, I have read through this thread about 4 or 5 times now because it interests me because I am a Type 1 Diabetic serving in the Army.

A bit of history so you know where I am coming from: I joined the Army in 1990 and I became a Type 2 diabetic in 1992. Since then I have been on 4 tours of Bosnia, 1 Medman exercise (Canada), 2 LionSun exercises (Cyprus), 2 Op Telic tours (Iraq) and been to Russia for 3 weeks.

So in my opinion being a Type 2 diabetic within the Army is not a problem. I serve in the RLC which is not a teeth arm, basically logistics. Delivering supplies, looking after stores etc etc. However, I have been 'on the ground' on numerous occasions and it was physically demanding and a couple of times I did sh!t myself lol.

Now for the not so good news:

December 2007 I went to see the doctor for a normal checkup as I was getting deployed to Afghan in February the following year. I had done all the pre-deployment training and I was actually going on xmas leave the following day. During this checkup bloods were taken, as they usually are and I thought nothing of it.
3 weeks later (just after xmas) I get a telephone call asking if I could make an appointment with the Doctor as soon as possible. I went to see the Doctor 3 days later and he told me I would not be deploying to Afghanistan or anywhere else for that matter as my HBa1C (a blood glucose test that measures the amount of sugar in your system over the past 3 months to put it simply) was too high.
At this point I told my chain of command and then all hell broke loose. This went upto the Garrison MO (a full Colonel) and after alot of arguments, letters and frustration I was told I am not deploying.

The reasons given were that I was now a Type 1 diabetic and in such a climate as Afghanistan this would not be acceptable and I would be putting myself and others at risk because of this. I now fully understand the decision that was made but it was a sh!tty few months for me.

Now, I apologise for the essay above but I felt it was needed to explain my circumstances before I carried on.

I became a Type 1 Diabetic when I was serving (obviously) and because of this I have lost my HGV license and I have also had to change jobs. I was in the RLC driver trade but now I work in a Welfare office because I cannot do the job I was trained to do. I keep myself reasonably fit but the Army sees the fact that I am a Type 1 Diabetic period. I am unable to do PT with other members of my Squadron, I am not allowed to do PFTs or CFTs because if something goes wrong then I could sue the Army or my wife could (not that I ever would but hey).

If you ever applied for the Army then I do believe that you would be refused because of what I just described above and I was a serving soldier when I was diagnosed as Type 2. If you were accepted then do not expect anything else other than a desk job.

Sorry for the bluntness at the end but I believe its needed.
 
#18
batfink said:
JP47 said:
I know of two guys who were diagnosed with diabetes and both then became insulin(couple of jabs a day)dependant.Both of them had to change job roles but have gone on to have pretty successful careers.

Good luck
i know one myself, but these were already in, for a new recruit the answer would have to be no. the army is not going to spend thousands putting someone through basic and a trade course for them not to be deployable from day one
Why not ? The put the royal sprog William thry Sandhurst , then pilot training and then helicopter training and he is never going to deploy.
This guy is at least wanting to be a real soldier
 
#19
I became a Type 1 Diabetic when I was serving (obviously) and because of this I have lost my HGV license and I have also had to change jobs. I was in the RLC driver trade but now I work in a Welfare office because I cannot do the job I was trained to do. I keep myself reasonably fit but the Army sees the fact that I am a Type 1 Diabetic period. I am unable to do PT with other members of my Squadron, I am not allowed to do PFTs or CFTs because if something goes wrong then I could sue the Army or my wife could (not that I ever would but hey).

If you ever applied for the Army then I do believe that you would be refused because of what I just described above and I was a serving soldier when I was diagnosed as Type 2. If you were accepted then do not expect anything else other than a desk job.

Sorry for the bluntness at the end but I believe its needed.
Same here, 18 years Crab air then became Type 1 in 2003. That was endex as far as the MoD was concerned, no extension of service (but they did let me stay until 22 year point) no promotion, no weapons, no guard, no deployments, sit in an office.

Tried RAFAux and was wanted right up until I mentioned Type 1 status, wouldn't even use me as back fill for guys going overseas (rather than gap a post why not use us sickies?) so basically old fruit, you're fecked, sorry. Have you thought of the Police if you want to serve?
 
#20
Why not put him through Sandhurst? Cost and resources. Sandhurst is not a ‘boot camp holiday’ for everyone to come and have a go for the experience, it’s to train future officers of the British Army and it costs time and money to run. I did a shortened course and we were run ragged, often missing meals and sleep (it was the fantastic and I loved every minute of it!).

Dales post said it all really. He was diagnosed Type 2 when he was already in and was an established and well trained soldier by the time he went onto insulin. They wouldn’t waste that talent and experience but utilised it in a way that it did not unduly affect Dales health or his comrades.

You absolutely cannot deploy someone whose life relies on daily medication into the type of environments we are experiencing on Op tours. Yes, you can climb mountains and row for Britain but in these environments there is an ‘opt out’ factor – in theatre there isn’t, unless you call a 9 liner and get the MERT team in – is that a good use of recourses?

Diabetes in a life limiting disease that needs courage, understanding and a real life-long commitment to manage successfully. Although I sincerely believe that Cadetmong is one of those people who would be able to do Sandhurst and survive and gain from the experience, is it right to allow people to do Sandhurst even if they will never be able to totally fulfil their duties as an Officer?



copepod said:
I suspect that many armed service medical staff choose service as they prefer to avoid the chronic conditions that dominate civilian medicine.
I don't know where you are trying to go with this Copepod. Armed service medical staff don't avoid chronic conditions, TA and regular get the same training and go on the same tours whilst working in the UK in the same hospitals. They don't avoid anything at all, we are all well trained and professional individuals who have to cope with many medical, surgical and trauma conditions is every aspect of our careers.
 

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