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What is the military's stance on Celiacs disease in the service?
June 2, 2009 2:14 PM   Subscribe

I'm considering enlisting but was unsure how a gluten intolerance would play into it all. I'm interested in the navy but any info would be great.
posted by isopropyl to Law & Government (9 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
 
Some quick searching - "celiac disease military" implies that it will probably prevent you from serving. this forum thread, for example.
posted by Tomorrowful at 2:21 PM on June 2, 2009


I'm sorry, but as a celiac you would not be able to enlist.
posted by bigmusic at 2:22 PM on June 2, 2009


My ex is currently serving in the Army in Iraq, and he has Celiac's disease, Crohn's, and he's lactose intolerant. I haven't asked him about how he was able to enlist, but I wouldn't be surprised if he just didn't tell the recruiter and is dealing with the intolerance as best he can without much of a choice of food. I talk to him occasionally, so if he gets internet access in the next couple weeks I'll ask him about this and send you a message if I learn more.
posted by emilyd22222 at 3:22 PM on June 2, 2009


Don't lie about the celiacs disease to get in, things could potentially be "very bad for you" down the road if you didn't offer the whole truth. You know there are good things about being in the military, but there are quite a few bad. What are you reasons for wanting to join the service? Perhaps we can offer some alternatives to you.
posted by bigmusic at 3:52 PM on June 2, 2009


This is the reference that they use at MEPS as the guidelines. Here's is the section that applies to you:

2-3 c (2)

Current or history of intestinal malabsorption syndromes, including, but not limited to post-surgical and idiopathic (579), is disqualifying. Lactase deficiency is disqualifying only if of sufficient severity to require frequent intervention, or to interfere with normal function
posted by bigmusic at 4:01 PM on June 2, 2009


I have a friend from high school who is either celiac or else "just" has a wheat allergy, I can't remember which. He also has several other food allergies, including eggs and some nuts. He wanted to join the Navy, but the recruiters he dealt with felt that it would be too hard for him to manage with a ship's limited mess hall options. So he's in the Army, and has been stationed at a base in Germany for a few years now. The fact that he's quite smart, and thus a desirable recruit, probably motivated the Army to try to find a spot for him that would work with his food limitations.
posted by Asparagirl at 4:44 PM on June 2, 2009


At MEPS, they ask if you have any allergies to common foods like bread, milk, eggs, etc. I'm fairly sure that Celiac's is disqualifying, but the only way you'll really know is if you go in and see a recruiter. He or she will have updated standards, and can try and get you a waiver for it if necessary.

I don't recommend lying about it, though. This is not something you want them to discover while you're at boot camp.
posted by lullaby at 5:43 PM on June 2, 2009


I served with a guy on my last submarine who developed gluten intolerance some time into his enlistment (i.e., no lying to get in.) He did ok, generally. Sometimes he had to put up with limited choices for meals, or just deal with pooping his guts out later on. Usually even in a small mess, there is a well nutritionally-balanced meal with a couple of choices for entree. At the very least, you could just eat the veggies for a meal that was too gluten-heavy.

I'd shoot for a smaller organization, if you make it into the Navy. On a sub, you can get to know the cooks and they'll work around whatever dietary thing you have, sometimes even to the point of making you special meals when possible. On an aircraft carrier, it's a little more difficult to want to be a special snowflake.
posted by ctmf at 11:12 PM on June 2, 2009


If you lie to MEPS and it's subsequently discovered, you can be kicked out with a total loss of benefits, not to mention what happens if you're incapacitated in some way and you have no way of telling people that you have special dietary needs?

In any case, lying to MEPS is not the way to get what you want. If you really and truly want to enlist, you'll need to get a waiver.
posted by squorch at 9:22 AM on June 14, 2009


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