Officers in the military are first soldiers then officers. So, officers must qualify in basic soldiering first and soldiering warrants physical fitness and mental robustness. Militaries maintain certain medical standards for the officers and soldiers. Because during operations, missions or wars, officers and soldiers often have to fight with no access to medical facilities. So, the purpose of the military medical standards is to ensure that medically qualified personnel are selected for the armed forces.
Military personnel must be free of contagious diseases that would likely endanger the health of others. They must be free of health conditions or physical defects that would require excessive time away from active duty for treatment or hospitalization or would separate from the Armed Forces for medical unfitness. Officers and soldiers must be medically fit to complete military training and adaptable to different operational environments during carrying out missions.
Medical Examinations During Officer Selection Process
Medical examinations are conducted twice during the officer selection process. Once during the preliminary stage and again at the last stage of the selection process. Some of the common grounds for getting medically rejected are:
- Under Sized Chest/Pegion Chest/Chest Deformity/Gynaecomastia
- Pitted Foot/Flat Foot/Varicose Veins/Knock Knees
- Excessive Carrying angle of hands/Hyperhidrosis
- Eyesight (Not 6/6)/Colour Blindness
- Deviated Nasal Septum (DNS)/Nasal polyps
- Waxed Ears/Ruptured Eardrum/Hearing Problem
- Skin Disease
- Kidney stones
Here we shall discuss on the Preliminary Medical Tests.
At the outset of the officer selection process, you will be invited to the nearest cantonment to appear for the Preliminary Medical Test. If you can qualify the Preliminary Medical Test, you will go for the Preliminary Interview/Viva. The Preliminary Medical Test generally includes following steps:
Height, Weight and Chest
Your height, weight and chest will be measured against the minimum and maximum standards.
- Minimum height for male is 5’4” and female 5’2”.
- Minimum weight for male is 50 KG and female 47 KG. However, you can check if you are overweight or not form the Body Mass Index (BMI) calculator online.
- Minimum chest measurement for male is normal 30” and with full breath 32”. For female candidates this measurement is 28” and 30” respectively.
Candidates who are under-height, over/underweight, and whose chest measurement is less than the minimum (Under Sized Chest) are usually rejected. Candidates with any prominent chest deformity like ‘Pegion Chest’ or Gynaecomastia (female) are also at risk. So, proper treatment or exercise before appearing for the medical test is suggested.
Skin Disease and Cut Marks
Any severe skin disease or very prominent long cut mark on the face or hands can be a reason for disqualification during the medical test.
Pitted feet and flat feet cases, if severe, are rejected.
Pitted feet or Pitted keratolysis is a bacterial infection of the skin. It affects the soles of the feet, particularly the weight-bearing areas. This infection causes small depressions or pits in the top layer of the skin. It can also lead to a bad smell. However, it can be avoided by taking regular foot care and using good socks.
Flat feet is a medical condition that is very common and affect millions of people around the world. However, armed forces do not employ people with flat feet. Lack of proper arch in the foot sole causes flat feet condition. As a result, your entire sole comes in touch with ground when you stand. We may not realize it but this arch plays a very important role in maintaining a balance in our body. This arch also adsorbs shock as you do activities like running or jumping. Military personnel have to go through a rigorous physical regimen. A person with flat feet cannot cope with such activities. If foot arch is not fully developed it will not act as a shock absorber, instead shock will be absorbed by the spine. This can cause problems in the back. Also, flat foot can cause pain in the foot which will again hamper athletic abilities of the person. Initially there would be a pain in heel, ankle and knee. Then there could be a muscular pain in calf muscles. As the condition deteriorates, pain and injury will progress to hip and spine. Therefore, persons with flat feet are advised to refrain from exhausting physical activities like running, carrying weight and jumping.
Varicose veins occur when veins become enlarged, dilated and overfilled with blood. The veins in this condition typically appear swollen and raised and have a bluish-purple or red color. The patients with varicose veins have pain or heaviness of legs, inability to walk and stand for long hours, itching and leg cramps at night. Severe varicose veins cases are declared unfit to join armed forces. However, The most advised treatment for the condition is to make changes in the lifestyle such as:
- Avoid standing for extended periods of time.
- Lose weight or maintain a healthy weight.
- Exercise to improve blood circulation.
- Elevate legs while resting or sleeping.
Knock knees is the deformity of the knee bones in legs. Here, while standing straight, the two knees touch each other. In the military training you will need to go through vigorous physical training i.e. Long distance running 30-40km, long standing, heavy lifting, crawling, climbing, etc. If you have knock knees, your knees will not be able to cope with the amount of load needed in the military training. So, If you have this problem, you should consult a physiotherapist to fix your posture/alignment issues.
Excessive palm sweating (Hyperhidrosis) can be a reason for medical rejection. Because it will create problems during military training especially during weapon handling and climbing ropes or beams. If you have it, please see a skin specialist and try to get cured.
Excessive Carrying angle of hands can be a problem as well. When your arms are held out at the sides and your palms are facing forward, your forearm and hands should normally be about 5 to 15 degrees away from the body. This is the normal “carrying angle” of the elbow. This angle allows your forearms to clear the hips when swinging your arms, such as during walking. It is also important when carrying objects. In the forces, firing and load carrying is an important part of the training and daily life. With excessive carrying angle, aiming while firing and carrying load can hinder the efficiency of a soldier and can become a matter of life and death during the action. Hence, candidates with excessive carrying angle are rejected.
For armed forces, eyes must be 6/6. Lasik is not allowed generally. However, sometimes for the candidates with spectacles, power up to 1.5 is allowed. There will be a Color Blindness Ishihara Test to examine the basic colour vision. Substandard colour perceptions are: CP4 means Permanent Unfit, CP3 and CP2 means unfit for flying.
Candidates having nasal fractures, also known as a broken nose and Rhinitis (runny nose) are at risk. However, there are other nose issues those can be reasons for medical unfitness:
- A deviated nasal septum (DNS) is a condition in which the nasal septum (the bone and cartilage that divide the nasal cavity of the nose in half) is significantly off center, or crooked, making breathing difficult.
- Nasal polyps are soft, painless, noncancerous growths on the lining of your nasal passages or sinuses. Larger growths or groups of nasal polyps can block your nasal passages or lead to breathing problems, a lost sense of smell and frequent infections.
Being able to hear without the use of any aid is a requirement for entering the military service. Primarily, prevention of the auditory canal because of malformation of the external ear or waxed ear is disqualifying for military service. Also, any puncture, perforation of the tympanic member (eardrum) or recent history of surgical procedures to correct the issue is disqualifying.
Mouth & Neck
Having 32 teeth is important for entering the military service. Candidates must take care of Tooth Decay (Cavities), Fractured Teeth, Worn Fillings, Gum Disease, Worn Tooth Enamel, And Exposed Tooth Root, etc. Also, having an effective bite by the front teeth is checked. Besides, severe tonsils problem can be disqualifying for military service.
Piles, Hernia and Venereal Disease
Piles or Haemorrhoids are masses, clumps, cushions of tissue in the anal canal. Whereas, a hernia occurs when an organ pushes through an opening in the muscle or tissue that holds it in place. For example, the intestines may break through a weakened area in the abdominal wall. Venereal Diseases (VD) or Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STD) are contracted and transmitted by sexual contact. Some examples are: Hydrocele, Phimosis, Varicocele, gonorrhea, and syphilis, etc. Candidate with such diseases are is disqualified for military service.
Few Tips for Medical Examinations
You should read above and know the medical requirements for military service well. If you have any of the abovementioned problems, consult a good doctor and try to get rid of it. For height, weight and chest measurement, continue with regular exercises to remain fit. Finally, you must remain clean and shaved before the medical examination and cooperate with the medics during the exam.
Best of luck!