Army and Colitis

Meet David:

I’m 25 year old Youth Pastor.  I live in New Jersey with my wife and Labradoodle. Was experiencing symptoms for several months, was told that it was “just stress.” After months of having 5 Bowel Movements of watery stool a day, my primary care physician finally referred me for a colonoscopy where I was diagnosed October 2010 with a mild case of UC.

An interesting thing about me is that I try to enjoy as much of life as I can. I grew up in a small town, with small minds and desired to go out and see and experience the world, even in my young age. From the time I was 18, I have lived in mud huts in Africa, on a boat on the Ganges river of India, backpacked through Europe, sky dived and ran a Spartan Race.

My Colitis:

For several months I have sensed the calling of the LORD to transition out of civilian ministry and pursue a life of Military Chaplaincy, leaning primarily towards Army. I have had the privilege to meet several Military Chaplains, read tons of books and resources and truly sensed being called that direction, it was the first thing I was excited about in a long time.

I was about 40 lbs over the weight requirements, so I began a strict diet/exercise regime to make the requirements [and lost 12 lbs in one month], I began talking with an Army recruiter and filling out the TONS of paperwork. I even told my family and close friends I was moving this direction, in which they were all proud and honored [even though I wasn’t even a boy scout]. My grandmother told me that my late grandfather who was in the Navy would have been very proud!

The details are blurry now that I write, but it was brought to my attention that having Ulcerative Colitis disqualifies one from serving in the Armed services. I couldn’t believe it! I e-mailed my recruiter twice and never heard anything back, typically he responds within 24 hours. I am disappointed and saddened, since I really thought this was the direction I was supposed to go.

Even though I am not 100% sure if I am exempt form military service forever because of having UC, I can’t help but feel discouraged and disappointed at this news, particularly since its something I’ve been working so hard towards for several months and was setting my hopes high on serving my God, my country and our fellow servicemen.

army colitis

How do you deal with the disappointments that life brings, particularly when it involves UC, something that you cannot control? Even though I am trusting the LORD and His will and provision for my life, I am disheartened and discouraged by this news.

Thank you for taking the time to read and understand.

written by David

submitted in the colitis venting area


7 thoughts on “Army and Colitis”

  1. Hi David, I am sorry to hear about your disappointment to follow your dreams. I do find it very interesting that they will not let you in the Army but most of us struggle with regular employment and looked down upon if we seek disability compensation due to our illness. Kind of contradictory, no one seems to recognize the difficulty with maintaining full time employment when you spend so much time in the restroom or deal with severe chronic joint pain.

  2. Hey David,

    I’m on Active Duty in the Army with Colitis. I was diagnosed over the summer. Ulcerative Colitis is on the list of conditions that prevent people from getting into the military because it is chronic. There are waivers however and since you would be in a non combat role it is possible for you to get one. They would look at your health and how long you have been in remission. If you have flares all the time and are dependent on medication they would likely not grant you a waiver. Seek out an OCS recruiter or a Chaplain recruiter to assist you. Going into a recruiting office won’t do you much good since they are generally seeking enlistees. You would be a direct commission most likely.

    1. Hey Nick,

      Way cool of you to hook David up with this valuable info!
      And on a side note, I hope you’re doing well and enjoying life! (awesome headshot btw buddy!!)

      take care,


  3. When 1 door closes, another door opens.
    Read some stories on this site and you will see the ups and downs of UC and how we are better for it…a gift and a curse…half empty or half full…up to you! :-)

    Good luck!

  4. Hey David,

    Sorry to hear of your situation. I was in the Army and acquired my symptoms while deployed to Iraq. It was literally a pain in the ass! Imagine being in a combat zone where going #2 is not the most convenient. My recommendation is to get your symptoms under control first before trying a life in the Army. Army Chaplains still spend a lot of time in field and still deploy to combat zones. My worst fear in Iraq was having to go #2 while on patrol…the last thing I wanted was to get into a fire fight with my pants down. Luckily for me, that never happened. The important thing for you is that you need to really understand your body before making major life decisions like that. Either way…best of luck!

  5. Hello everyone and thank you for your encouragement and kind words! Between the time of writing this post and now, my Army recruiter has contacted me and told me that he needs to pass on my diagnosis to an MD, and will give me a verdict. I contacted my doctor and was told my diagnosis will be sent in the mail soon.

    So there is still hope, and for that, I am grateful. I have been able to come to better terms with this situation, and grateful for Adam and all of you for your kind words on this website. Thanks. Have a great day.

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