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Can You Join The Army if You Suffer From Acid Reflux?

Before answering the question of whether you can join the army if you are suffering from acid reflux, knowing what this disease is all about is important. To begin with, when acidic juices from the stomach climb back into the esophagus and even reach the lungs and mouth in some cases, a discomfort and pain in the chest rises. This is called acid reflux.  

Joining the army with acid reflux.When you eat food, it passes the esophagus and reaches the stomach where stomach acids and gastric juices digest it. The walls of the stomach are built strong enough to store the stomach content without causing any damage. In fact, it’s the esophageal sphincter, which is located at the junction where the esophagus and the stomach join, that prevents these acids from returning back once they enter the stomach. However, when the lower esophageal sphincter is weakened, gastric juices and stomach acid can leak upwards into the esophagus, thus causing acid reflux.  

Army rules for patients with acid reflux 

Since the military spends a great deal of money and time to train the cadets and officers, there are certain rules regarding people who already suffer from acid reflux or have developed the disease while serving the army. It has been found that such patents often fail to discharge their duties or can’t stay and finish their assignments due to their medical conditions. Therefore, acid reflux or   developing GERD acts as a qualifying incident to validate VA disability.  

According to the medical fitness standards established for the army, individuals are deemed to be medically qualified to join the army if they are:  

·         Free of contagious diseases that are likely to endanger the health of other personnel. 

·         Free of physical defects or medical conditions that would necessitate excessive time lost from duty for necessary treatment or hospitalization or may give rise to separation from the army for medical unfitness. 

·         Medically capable of completing the required training satisfactorily. 

·         Medically adjustable to the military environment and don’t suffer from any geographical area limitations. 

·         Medically able to perform duties without aggravation of existing medical conditions or physical defects. 

Since acid reflux can often take a serious turn and create an inability that hinders a person from performing his/her duties without interruption, it could offer a ground for medical discharge from the army in case you have been able to join the ranks but the disease aggravated during the course of duty. Though the disease is treatable, it can progress to a point where the patient gets incapacitated. Since such a condition will put the patient and other service members at risk, acid reflux is considered to be disqualifying circumstance before enlistment in the army. 

In case you develop this disease while serving, it may act as a validation for your medical discharge. 

In case you are considering not disclosing your condition, you run high chances of being disqualified without exception, as all wannabe army cadets will have to undergo a medical exam to let medical officers assess if they are physically fit to serve. Some people may think that since waivers exist for almost every eventuality, they can get into the army without disclosing their condition of their own volition. However, even such people will need a medical waiver to get through the door in the first place. 

Army rules for abdominal organs and gastrointestinal system 

To understand if you can join the army with acid reflux or not, knowing what army rules have to say in this respect can help. Medical condition related to esophagus, as per army standards, say: 

Unless otherwise stipulated, the conditions listed below are those that would disqualify candidates by virtue of current diagnosis, or for which he/she has a verified past medical history. 

·         History or existence of esophageal disease, including (though not limited to) varices, ulceration, achalasia, fistula, GERD (530.81), or complications from GERD including limitation, or other dysmotility disorders, or maintenance on acid suppression medication; recurrent or chronic, esophagitis (530.1) 

·         Current or history of reactive airway disease related to GERD  

·         Recurrent or chronic esophagitis (530), current or history of dysmotility disorders 

A candidate who has undergone surgical correction for GERD within 6 months prior to joining the army would also fail to meet the stipulated medical standard. (P43 stomach correction, P42 esophageal correction, as well as P45 intestinal correction) 

So, make sure to undergo a medical examination by your family doctor to rule out the chances of any of these conditions if you wish to join the army.