Diabetes deemed undesirable in the army

By Camille FratiLex KlerenEric Engel Switch to French for original article

A candidate for the Military Band has won his legal battle with the Luxembourg army, which had turned him down because of his diabetes. A look back at a case that says a lot about the army's power to decide for itself.

Is diabetes incompatible with a career in the Luxembourg army orchestra? That's what the army and the Ministry of Defense think. It's true that diabetes is still one of the diseases that most countries deem incompatible with work in the military. But medical progress and a certain open-mindedness – or simply pragmatism – are moving the lines: the Belgian army will soon be opening its doors to people with diabetes, while in France the police force has already been accessible to them since the end of 2022, which is an encouraging first step.

Jang (name changed by the editors) has been diabetic since childhood. With his condition under control, he thought he would be able to choose his career without his health being an obstacle. With a master's degree in music, specializing in trumpet, from the Royal Conservatory of Brussels, he is taking the competitive examination for non-commissioned officer in the Luxembourg Military Band in the summer of 2020. He was selected, but still had to pass the two-day selection process, which included psycho-technical tests, sports tests, a medical examination and a motivational interview. He passed the various tests – notably the physical aptitude test with an average of 15.5 out of 20 – but was rejected. The reason given was that he had told the army medical service that he had type 1 diabetes. Without looking any further, the army's chief medical officer declared him unfit.

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