A Year After Doctors Said He Wouldnt Be Allowed To Commission Air Force Academy Graduate Joins The Space Force
A year before Tanner Johnson was due to graduate from the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado, he was lying in a hospital bed and doctors were telling his family he had two hours to live.
His organs were shutting down due to complications caused by Type 1 diabetes, an autoimmune condition where the body attacks the cells that make insulin.
Type 1 diabetes usually affects young children and runs in families, but none of Johnsons relatives were diabetic. He was nearly 22when he was diagnosed in May 2020, two months after most cadets had been sent home as the academy scrambled to contain the fast-spreading coronavirus.
Johnson pulled through the worst of the health crisis and began to deal with his new reality.
The doctors said I would have to take insulin shots every day for the rest of my life, I would not be able to fly, I would not be allowed in the military, and wouldnt be allowed to return to the academy and graduate, Johnson said.
But he refused to accept what they said and set out to prove them wrong. He hoped to become the first person to be commissioned into the U.S. military with a medical condition that, up until then, was automatically disqualifying.
If you have Type 1, you become not deployable because you are taking insulin shots, said Lt. Col. Amy Carpenter, an assistant professor of biology at the academy and a certified diabetes counselor.
The Canadian Human Rights Act
In the case of discrimination in the workplace, if you are employed in federal work, the matter would come under the jurisdiction of the Canadian Human Rights Commission. Subsection 3 , paragraph 7 and section 14 of the Canadian Human Rights Act stipulates the following:
3 For all purposes of this Act, race, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, age, sex, marital status, family status, disability and conviction for which a pardon has been granted are prohibited grounds of discrimination.
7. It is discriminatory practice, directly or indirectly
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Why Should Diabetes Be A Problem In The Military
Looking at the reality of the situation will help to show why diabetes presents a problem for military members. Imagine you have been sent overseas to somewhere in the Middle East. Its hot, you only get MREs for meals and you may have to go long periods without eating.
MREs consist mainly of carbohydrates and the heat makes it very difficult to keep your insulin from being exposed to extremely high temperatures. With your unit constantly moving, you getting very little sleep and the high stress situations, this type of work could become very dangerous to your health.
If youre in this type of situation and you live with Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes, you will likely be on insulin. Its possible you could leave your insulin behind if your unit moves out fast and it wont take must to see your blood sugar reach dangerous levels very fast.
In the middle of combat, you could have an issue related directly to your diabetes and it could cause your unit to either leave you behind or scramble for supplies. If they have to stop and take care of you, it could put the entire unit at risk.
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Army Policy On Diabetes In 2020
The official Army regulations state that for appointment to the military, current or history of diabetes mellitus does not meet the standard for enlistment.
The Army, like every other branch of the U.S. Military, is pretty specific in that it does not enlist people diagnosed with type 1 or type 2 diabetes.
However, some argue that the military has become more lenient regarding diabetes and other medical conditions that previously prohibited some from joining the Army.
In fact, regulations now state that if a soldier is diagnosed with diabetes while already on active duty, the soldier is required to undergo a medical board evaluation yet can still remain enlisted if found fit for duty.
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Type 2 diabetics have a greater likelihood of gaining acceptance, especially with the right waiver.
Why? The military states that a medical board evaluation is not required if the person maintains a hemoglobin A1C of less than 7%.
Furthermore, the individual must not need medication and only lifestyle modifications to remain fit for service.
It gets a little more complicated if the servicemember with diabetes requires a significant amount of medication, such as insulin for type 1 diabetes.
If that is the case it could deem the individual medically non-deployable and require a medical board evaluation.
The member of the military could either get boarded out of service or remain active duty. The results are quite variable.
Can You Join The Military With Diabetes
January 16, 2018 By Ben Ehinger
Joining the military is a very noble and patriotic thing to do. Fighting to preserve the freedom of this great country is something many want to do, but can you join the military with diabetes?
Questions around military recruiting and diabetes have been asked for many years. There are multiple types of diabetes and even pre-diabetes to consider. If youre considering joining the military, but youre afraid because of diabetes, heres the information you seek.
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The Military And Type 1 Diabetes More Of A Connection Than We Think
The military and Type 1 diabetes more of a connection than we think Happy Friday folks, I know Im in desperate need of a weekend! Im usually pretty lighthearted on Friday posts, but this time I need to turn your attention to a very specific sub-group of people with Type 1 diabetes. Do you know anyone who was serving in the military and diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes during or shortly after deployment? If so, they are not alone. Turns out this pattern of developing diabetes in conjunction with serving in the military is very common enough that some doctors, scientists, and concerned veterans are starting to explore this phenomenon in hopes that it leads to more information about why anyone develop Type 1 diabetes. A friend of mine started a Facebook group for folks in this sub-group of people with Type 1, and if you or someone you know was diagnosed during or after serving in the armed forces, Id recommend you join in on the discussion. In addition to exploring the mystery of the military-diabetes connection, this group could be influential in changing the resources available to people with diabetes in the military. And I am all for anything that helps folks with the betes. Click here for the info. On that noteis it happy hour yet? Its five oclock somewhere right?Continue reading > >
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Military Recruiting And Diabetes
If youre not in the military, it can be very difficult to enlist if you have pre-diabetes, Type 1, Type 1.5 or Type 2 diabetes. Depending on the severity of your disease and your A1C, you may be able to enlist in certain positions. However, you can also consider going on a plant-based diet for many months or even a few years before enlisting.
A plaint-based diet has been shown to reverse diabetes and even has allowed some to live without insulin or any other treatment for the disease. Following a strict plant-based diet could be the answer and may allow you to get the all-clear from a doctor before enlisting in the military.
The hard part will be sticking to this type of a diet once youre in the military. While some bases and military outlets have become far healthier, its still difficult to get all the best foods during basic training and during combat. However, if you follow a plant-based diet as much as possible, you may be able to join the military and keep your diabetes from coming back.
Make sure to consult a doctor before starting any new diet. If you want to join the military, but you have pre-diabetes or diabetes, consider making some major diet changes first. This could be your ticket to joining without diabetes and to a healthier you.
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Can You Enlist In The Military With Pre
Its hard to enlist in the military with Pre-diabetes, Type 1, Type 1.5 or Type 2 diabetes if you are not already in. Again, the severity of your disease is going to be looked at, and you will have to show that you are self-managing your diabetes. Your A1C will need to be in a range where you are not at risk for complications , and you will need to keep your post-prandial blood sugars under 180.
There are many stories related to people who tried to enlist, but were unable to serve. There are stories related to folks with diabetes of all types, including Type 1.5 . There seems to be a large volume of PDQs given out without any medical evaluation being done with just the mention of diabetes on the application. Military recruiters may say no, but then you will have the opportunity to state your case and get approval through waivers. Be prepared for recruiters to say no anyway, and have another plan in case.
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Filing A Human Rights Complaint
If you feel that you have been discriminated against because of diabetes, you should discuss your complaint and the process with a human rights officer with either the Canadian Human Rights Commission or your provincial/territorial human rights commission .
There are deadlines to filing a human rights complaint, so it should be done as soon as possible following the discriminatory action or event.
Getting Tested For Diabetes
Diabetes is diagnosed by using one of four blood tests.
It is simple to get checked at your primary care physicians office or health clinic.
The test will measure your blood glucose level.
It basically monitors how much sugar is in your blood.
It is a really good idea to get tested for diabetes, especially if you are considering the military.
In fact, some people with diabetes do not have symptoms immediately and therefore are unaware of the disease.
The earlier you can learn of a diagnosis, the better your odds of survival just like any deadly disease.
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Are Type 1 Diabetics Allowed To Join The Army
Are Type 1 Diabetics allowed to join the army? I really wanna join the military but i doubt if they wold accept me since i am an insulin dependent. I was rejected to work in a cruise ship because of that, i’m afraid the military would reject me too : You can’t be a police officer or a firefighter, or a paramedic either, It is obvious why, If you were separated from your unit for even a few days, you would likely die. Any job where you would have to drive, they just don’t want the added risks. I was a paramedic when I was diagnosed. I was offered a desk job. I moved into laboratory science instead. Now Tim I must disagree with you in the aspect of the firefighter, paramedic part. I have been a paramedic for the last 14 years and am still riding the gut bus 3 days a week. Maybe in some areas they will not accept you for the job but it seems that it would be against the law. Just saying!!! Yes they will denie you into the military!! It sucks but they are way better jobs out there. Trust me, I spent 6 years in the military, I loved what I did but i found that civi life has more to offer. No theres not a lot of glory in EMS but its a great job and you can go so far with it. And this is a job they can never do without. Dont give up hope on jobs or following your dreams. I’m sorry, you won’t be allowed to enlist and it is not just T1, any form ofContinue reading > >
Enlistment After Diagnoses Of Diabetes
As per the 2017 regulations of the US military, you may not be able to join the military if you have diabetes. The official army regulations “standards for Medical fitness” explore that individuals with diabetes history do not meet the standards for enlistment in the military. Especially Army has straightforward rules for not qualifying people with type 1 or type 2 diabetes.
Soldiers diagnosed with diabetes after enlistment have higher chances of staying in the military if they can perform all duties well. They also need to undergo Medical Board Evaluation to get a thorough check-up.
Each branch in the US military has established different boards for medical evaluation. They check all soldiers to check if they are fit mentally and physically.
Suppose the soldiers do not have extreme symptoms associated with diabetes, like fainting during duty. In that case, they may qualify to serve in the military. However, medical boards have different rules for diabetes depending on the specific board and service member’s particular symptoms and severity level.
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A Mixed Military Bag For People With Diabetes
As we approach Memorial Day and recognize those serving our country, we thought it would be worthwhile to look at the ease with which people with diabetes are able to serve in the military, and how thats changed through the years.
Sadly, the picture isnt as optimistic as we would have hoped.
While access to military service for PWDs has gotten a little better over time, not much has changed and it remains mostly hit-or-miss when it comes to someone being able to serve despite their condition.
The American Diabetes Associations legal advocacy director, Katie Hathaway, says its pretty much a mixed bag and military service is off limits for most PWDs. It comes down to an individual being able to educate a military medical panel that he or she can still serve despite their diagnosis, often battling the same misconceptions and perceptions that plague those of us on the civilian side. Our battle is their battle, and the war spills into all ranks and military branches, apparently.
Of course, we have to talk types here. Really, were only talking about those PWDs already diagnosed with type 1 or dependent on insulin at the time they wish to enter the military. The possibility of service pretty much becomes a non sequitur when youre living with a pre-existing condition.
At least some PWDs still have the chance to serve, though: those whose diagnosis hit after they were already in.