Can you join the military with flat feet? If you’re interested in serving your country but aren’t sure if you meet the requirements, this article can help. The quick answer is yes: you CAN join the military with flat feet. In this article, we’ll look at the different branches of the military view flat feet and how you can still join the army even if you have flat feet. Let’s get started.
What Are Flat Feet?
Fleet feet are a condition where the arch in your foot becomes depressed. A variety of factors, including overstretched ligaments, cause the small bones in the middle of your foot to drop more than normal. To compensate, your body absorbs the shocks from walking and running using your ankles, knees, hips, and lower back. Because flat feet put extra stress on these areas, you’re more likely to get injured after long periods of exercise.
Flat feet can cause issues as soon as new recruits enter basic training. The stress on your body from military duty and daily conditioning will be amplified from the lack of support in your feet. It’s a liability for the military to knowingly put a recruit with flat feet through basic training since the chance of injury is increased. People with flat feet often experience arch pain and swelling in the ankle during or after intense exercise.
However, just having flat feet doesn’t mean you can’t serve in the military. There are people who have flat feet and but they don’t have any pain, cramping, or overcompensation in their bodies. When none of these symptoms are present, these people can serve in the military despite the flat appearance of their feet.
History Of Flat Feet In The Armed Forces
Before World War 2, flat feet were an automatic disqualifier for military service. The military deemed flat feet too big of a risk in their effort to build a functional armed force. Examiners would disqualify candidates based purely on the visual identification of flat feet. It wasn’t discovered until later that sight alone cannot diagnose flat feet that hinder movement. During the first two World Wars, flat feet were seen as a sign of poor health and belonging to a lower class. High arches were associated with vigor and a high-class background. While there was no scientific basis to back this up, the military continued to use flat feet to disqualify new recruits.
All this changed during the Vietnam war where the military was in desperate need of new recruits. Flat feet and other minor conditions that were seen as a “way out” of military service were no longer disqualifying factors.
When you join the Navy, you’ll receive an examination from the doctor at the MEPS (Military Entrance Processing Station). During this examination, the doctor will look for potentially disqualifying conditions, including flat feet. If the doctor discovers you have flat feet, the Navy allows you to sign a waiver to enlist anyway. The waiver gets you to acknowledge the presence of flat feet and relieves the Navy of having to worry if your flat feet will cause an injury.
If you want to join the Navy with flat feet, speak with your local recruiter. You may be asked to sign a waiver or seek treatment before continuing your application. Many people have aggravated their preexisting flat foot problems from their time serving in the military. Your local recruiter can give you a highly accurate answer on how they approach this situation to create the best outcome possible.
Similar to the Navy, flat feet are not a disqualifier in the army. However, even if your flat feet cause no symptoms, it’s worth exercising caution before joining the army. Compared to other branches of the military, army training includes a lot of long-distance running, conditioning work, and tasks that involve being on your feet all day. Even if your flat feet don’t cause any problems now, issues can start to develop as you push your body through basic training. Take the time to assess if you feel confident in your level of strength and conditioning before you make a commitment to the army. Even something as simple as manning a radio station requires you to be on your feet for hours at a time. Flat feet can develop into painful symptoms that make you ineffective at your job.
Coast Guard Policy
The coast guard takes the same approach to fleet feet as other branches. Once you arrive at the Military Entrance Processing Center, a doctor will assess you and let you know if you’re fit for service. Again your ability to join depends on the severity of your condition. If you have flat feet and want to join regardless, you can sign a waiver. It’s been reported that certain branches of the military offer surgical operations, but the conditions for surgery approval require discussion with your local recruiting center.
Air Force Policy
The Air Force offers some unique options for potential recruits with flat feet. Like the other branches, the Air Force allows people with flat feet to join, but what makes this branch unique is that there are many positions that do not require you to spend long hours on your feet. If you choose to work in Intelligence or Cyberspace Operations, you’ll find these are positions that require you to sit most of the time. However, just like the other branches, you’ll be required to pass basic training. It’s worth taking the time to consider if your body can handle the rigors of the training.
The Marines also allow recruits to join with flat feet, but similar to the army; it’s important to exercise caution. Marine training has the potential to be the toughest for new recruits out of all 5 branches of the military. The marines will get a doctor to examine you once you arrive at MEPS (Military Entrance Processing Station). You can sign a waiver to join with flat feet, but it’s at your own risk. You can test your body by doing the duck walk exercise. If your feet hurt while walking from a crouched position, it’s likely a bad idea to join the marines. If you can duck walk for long periods without any pain, you can feel confident in your physical ability to join the Marines.
To conclude, you can join all branches of the military with flat feet. Before joining, it’s important to consider the severity of your condition and if you experience any symptoms that hinder your ability to perform. The military allows new recruits to sign waivers that acknowledge they have flat feet but allows them to serve regardless. Military boot camps are extremely physically demanding, which makes it important to consider how your flat feet affect your movement before deciding to join.