Is It True You Cannot Have Flat Feet in the Military?

Regulations regarding physical requirements for admittance into the military typically depend on the laws of a particular country. In the US, for example, there are a number of different physical conditions that can affect a person’s eligibility to serve in the military. One of the most common subjects of debate with regard to this issue concerns whether someone can have flat feet in the military. Someone who has flat feet can serve in the military, although it depends on the severity of a person’s condition, and there are certain instances in which having flat feet will keep someone out of the military.

A person has flat feet when the arches of his feet flatten out rather than remain arched. This condition is also called pes planus or fallen arches. This can be extremely painful for some people, while others are able to live a relatively normal life with some corrective footwear to ensure greater comfort. The degree of severity of the condition typically indicates whether or not someone who has flat feet can serve in the military. This is usually decided by a doctor who examines new recruits for the military and decides on whether or not someone is fit to serve.

The military regulations in the US specifically indicate that a person with flat feet does not meet the standards of physical requirements to serve in the military in two basic instances. If someone has “symptomatic” flat feet, which means that the condition causes the person persistent and severe physical pain, then he or she cannot serve. The actual process of a person’s arches falling can be the only time of severe pain for a person with flat feet, and if the person does not experience pain afterward, then he or she can join the military. Ongoing pain, however, will typically prevent a person from service in the US military.

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There is a second stipulation that can prevent someone from having flat feet in the military, which is if a person needs to wear corrective footwear. This stipulation can have some leeway to it, and someone who wears basic inserts may be able to serve, but prescriptive or orthopedic footwear will typically keep someone out of the military. These regulations are in place because someone with flat feet may be more prone to developing other foot or leg problems, especially during the grueling marches that are often part of basic training. Special footwear can also be difficult to maintain on the battlefield, and most military agencies will not recruit someone who may become a liability in a combat situation. Since having flat feet can keep someone out of the military, it has often been used as a way to avoid service by those who did not wish to join.

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