The medical condition known as flat feet, or in medical terms "pes planus," also called fallen arches, has, in the past, meant an automatic disqualification from military service. While still listed as a disqualifying factor, a potential enlistee may be eligible for a waiver now.
According to the University of Maryland Medical Center's online Medical Encyclopedia, pes planus means that the arch of the foot “collapses and comes in contact with the ground.” The ankle bones may also pronate, or rotate inward from a vertical line. The condition may be congenital, or it may develop in adulthood.
The Department of Defense Medical Examination Review Board certifies individuals for admission to the service academies, ROTC programs, and direct commission programs, and pes planus is listed in their regulations as an automatic disqualifying condition. U.S. Army Regulation 40-501, "Standards of Medical Fitness," also lists pes planus as a condition not meeting standards for acceptance.
Although waivers can be given, a 2003 study by the U. S. Department of Defense's Accession Medical Standards Analysis & Research Activity System showed a somewhat higher rate of early medical discharge for individuals with the condition. However, the difference was not statistically significant and the AMSARA report adds, “These findings alone do not provide evidence to change either the current accession standards or waiver criteria for pes planus.”
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