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Question:

From New London, Connecticut, USA:

I am an 19 male who is a cadet at the United States Coast Guard Academy, I have had type 1 diabetes less than a year, and currently Coast Guard policy prohibits people with diabetes of any kind from serving in the service. I am deeply committed to fighting the system and am asking for help in building a case to change this policy. It would be most appreciated if you or someone you know could help me build a case, point me in the right direction, give me facts, etc. I need help so anything that your team could do would be most appreciated.

Answer:

The American Diabetes Association is an excellent place to start. The organization was recently helpful in re-instating a fired police officer in San Antonio. See the brief presented in his case.

BS

Additional comments from Dr. Stuart Brink:

It's an unfair and discriminatory policy but true for all US service academies and, in fact, for all US military services. You may want to contact the American Diabetes Associations advocacy and legal department since they will have the most current information about what has been done and what is currently being done. Contacting your own Congressperson and Senator would be a big help. Only when people with diabetes decide that they do not like such discrimination will the policy be changed.

It is reasonable to prohibit people with type 1 diabetes from combat positions since they place themselves and others in potential danger from unpredictability during any fighting situations. However, there are thousands of non-combat positions with the service that would not interfere with appropriate diabetes self-care and these types of jobs should be open, without bias, for anyone who can document excellent self-care. Around the world, only two countries allow people with type 1 diabetes to join and stay in the service -- with excellent self-care documented: Israel and Switzerland. Both diabetes associations had to fight for many years to make this happen. You may also want to contact the Israeli Diabetes Association and the Swiss Diabetes Association for some insight.

SB

Additional comments from Jane Seley, diabetes nurse specialist:

I just wrote to my friend who is a flight nurse and Major in the Air Force reserves, who says that the Air Force also has such a policy. You should get a letter from an endocrinologist stating that you well controlled. My friend also says you would definitely not be worldwide deployable and that type 1 diabetes probably won't qualify for a waiver. Unfortunately, they will most likely kick you out, but she is going to find out if there is someone special he can contact to fight this.

JS

Additional comments from Crystal Jackson, Paralegal, Government Relations Department, ADA:

At the present time, the military has a blanket ban against people with diabetes. For information, contact the American Diabetes Association at 1-800-DIABETES.

CJ

DTQ-20030526195857
Original posting 13 Jul 2003
Posted to Other Social Issues

  
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Last Updated: Tuesday April 06, 2010 15:09:46
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