The military and Type 1 diabetes – more of a connection than we think…


Happy Friday folks, I know I’m in desperate need of a weekend!  I’m usually pretty lighthearted on Friday posts, but this time I need to turn your attention to a very specific sub-group of people with Type 1 diabetes.

Do you know anyone who was serving in the military and diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes during or shortly after deployment? If so, they are not alone. Turns out this pattern of developing diabetes in conjunction with serving in the military is very common – enough that some doctors, scientists, and concerned veterans are starting to explore this phenomenon in hopes that it leads to more information about why anyone develop Type 1 diabetes.

A friend of mine started a Facebook group for folks in this sub-group of people with Type 1, and if you or someone you know was diagnosed during or after serving in the armed forces, I’d recommend you join in on the discussion. In addition to exploring the mystery of the military-diabetes connection, this group could be influential in changing the resources available to people with diabetes in the military. And I am all for anything that helps folks with the ‘betes. Click here for the info….

On that note…is it happy hour yet? It’s five o’clock somewhere right?

Did you enjoy this post? Why not leave a comment below and continue the conversation, or subscribe to my feed and get articles like this delivered automatically to your feed reader.


Is there actually evidence that they develop it at a greater rate than active people their own age? Because most of them are probably young adults… and I’m pretty sure adults up to 30 are supposed to be the second most common age group (after minors) to develop the ‘betes.

Which is not to say they don’t need some tailored support, of course.

I’m wondering if it has something to do with physical activity. I know I was diagnosed while running x-country in high school.
“… during or shortly after deployment …” can also mean “right after boot camp.”
But no, I don’t know anyone this has happened to in the military.

I am the friend Alexis is referring to (Thanks again Alexis for blogging about us Military DM1’s.) The rate is certainly greater than the National average. Most cases I have found have been members in their 20’s and 30’s. Possible links to Anthrax vaccine, exposure to viruses,neurotoxins and other environmental factors in Iraq/Afghan cuasuing autoimmune response, or the inordinate amount of stress combat brings on. I was one of 3 in my 750 person unit to come back with it. I found another unit of 140 people with 6 cases within 14 months of a deployment. Most cases derive from combat or jet pilot occupations. I will keep you posted on our advancement. Happy Fri!!

BG 112 six weeks before deployment. BG over 450 (limit of Doctor’s meter) four weeks after 180 day activation with deployment. B-52 pilot.

Same happen to me. I deployed to Iraq nothing was wrong till after 10 months after I got home and went to ER and my sugar was 618. I am now on insulin pump and possibly getting medically retired or seperated from the military because of this.

Heather – yes this happens more often than we think. Let me know if you want me to put you in touch with others who have had this experience.

Hi I am a type 1 diabetic kid with dreams of being a marine. I am 12 and want to know if I can .my bg is usually around 135 but yeah I also use the insulin pump thank you. diabetic power!

Tell me I can be a marine I didn’t ask for diabetes ive had it since I was 3. I really hate it when my friends say I cant eat sweets or candy. I also have celiac but that’s common for people with type 1 diabetes. Do any of u have it. Anti wheat

I served in the Army from 83-88 and about 10 years after getting out, I was diagnosed with type 1 insulin dependent diabetes. I’m on the pump now, with no problems except living with the desease.

I am currently a Gunnery Sergeant in the United States Marine with over 15 years of service. I was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes in May of 2010. I was deemed FIT for duty during the MEB/PEB process in February of 2011. I am able to maintain all physical training requirements while maintaining good BG# and able to conduct all daily duties with no set backs from my diabetes. I served 4 combat tours to Iraq with the latest being in August 2007 – January of 2008. My last two flight physicals (2009, 2010) showed signs of high blood sugars but were never noticed by the doctors. Anyone with further information on groups/studies that are investigating a possible link between Type 1 Diabetes and the military please pass on.

I am currently being medicaly discharged from the army for type 1. I began symptoms for my case weeks after I was hit by an IED. I faught the symptoms for over a year and finaly after loosing 50 lbs. loosing my vision and getting admitted to ICU, I was diagnosed. I tried to stay in and change MOS but they denied that. I have excepted the discharge and recieved my ratings. I recieved a 20 % disability. The requirments for 40% and a medical retirement are insalin dependent, a restricted diet, and restricted activities. Any diabetics will no we meet those requirments. I dont know about all this but I have only a type 2 diabetic in my family. I am 27, and dont smooke drink or dip. I realy would like to know if the army caused this. if you have any info to help plz email.

My husband was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes a month ago. He has been told he will be medically discharged from the Army. He is insulin dependent and walking brings his sugars down a lot. So his activities are limited for the time being. He is non-deployable. He has been in for 12 years, with 2 deployments and no previous signs of Diabetes. It hit us out of nowhere. Will he only get 40% if medically retired?

Jennie – please email me when you can: I have a friend who may be able to help you!

I meet all the specifications above, military, deployment, kuwait and Iraq. Diagnosed 8 months after returning with type 2. any know policy for type 2.

My friend joined the army, got all the vaccines, and then was diagnosed. They wouldn’t let him in after that. He never even went through basic training. I always thought it was very suspicious.

My father was diagnosed with Type I diabetes after nearly 20 years in the military and several deployments. I really think he would enjoy talking to other people who are in the same situation now. He really loved his job as EOD in the military and was heart broken when he was medically retired…

My husband was stationed in korea and developed t1 diabetes out there. he is insulin dependent and getting a pump TODAY. He is being medically retired and going to school using vocational rehabilitation. I just want to mention that God has used this struggle to bless us immensely and He can do the same for you if you let him! God bless y’all!

My Husband was away last year in Afghanistan where his job was searching for IED’s with EOD and Search Taskforce. Early on in his tour he and his team were IDF’d an he lost 2 mates. Since returning sept 12, he has lost a stone and a half in weight. Last week he went to the Med Centre for a medical and they found abnormalities, 4 days later diagnosed with Type 1 following BM 33.1. He is fit and well but been told by the doctor that this will end his military career after nearly 11 years. any advice or help etc would be greatly appreciated.

My husband was diagnosed with Type 1 a month after he came back from
Afghanistan. He got sick and lost 30lbs his friends took him to
A military hospital in Germany an that’s when he was diagnosed.
He has no family history of diabeties at all in his family,He currently has 30% disability with VA and he is currently in the Army Reserves but after being in for 3 yrs they tell him that he need to sit in front of a med board so they can medically discharge him. Well 3 yrs later we r still tried to get in front of the med board. Any info anyone has would be great it’s just an endless game or seems like. Our daughter also inherited the type 1 from him she got diagnosed at 21mo.

No family history. No determining factors. Deployed to Afghanistan for 12 months. 4 months after return diagnosed Type 1 with bs in the 450s. That was 2009. Been able to stay in so far, but now going through MEB. Fighting to stay in. Any information on studies or others who have stayed in/deployed as Type 1 would be helpful. Please email me.


No family history.
served 84 – 87, was deployed to Northern Ireland in 86
diagnosed with type 1 in 88/89 often thought my service was the cause of this condition, i,e vaccines and exposure to various things

Hi all,
I have been a type 1 for 3 years now, diagnosed at the age of 26. I served in the Air Force at Lackland AFB from 02 to 04 and then diagnosed in 2011. I am an avid type 1 diabetic researcher as I feel this condition which came out of the blue deserves much needed attention to finally find the cause. No one in my family has it I am the first on both sides. I believe there is indeed a connection with military service, however this wouldn’t explain the all the rising cases from all over the world. What I have found is that diabetes type 1 is closely related to mental status which in turn affects neurotransmitter synapse which affect everything when nor balanced. I personally believe that depression and traumatic events affect the immune system drastically. In the military, especially when deployed veterans are exposed to many traumatic events and even of not they are separated from family and friends to serve their country, this can take a toll in mental balance, relationships are ruined, things happen that you can’t be thethere for, you miss special occasions, and it’s not like you can afford to jump on a plane aND go home to visit with the pay stubs we received or the days to take off. For those with the condition that have never served, depression and traumatic events are very possible still from car accidents to abuse. I came to my conclusion from personal experience, I had my first child in 2004 and did not even have gestational diabetes, in 2011 right before getting diagnosed, I had come back from a beautiful Norwegian cruise, not even 24 hrs later I was hit by a car, although not severe I was so angry, scared, shaking then 2 weeks later my husband leaves for 18 month deployment, I became really sad and it felt like I was constantly walking with a lump in my throat, 2 weeks after that I almost became blind with over 1000 glucose in urine which was critical. I was then diagnosed with type 1 after antibody testing. Shortly after being diagnosed I felt content that I finally new what was wrong with me and even happier to know that is was manageable my sugars began dropping with the help of long acting insulin alone and was told to hold off on the fast acting as I was going through the honey moon phase. After a few short months, I started to realize how much I hated to pick and poke and inject, I had to start fast acting insulin, and my blood sugar and a1c. Went up. The honeymoon was over. We then moved to Pensacola fl. We decided to get my oldest daughter a dog for her bday. We got a Labrador, everything was so right, I was the happiest I had ever been in a long time, I mean singing in the shower, taking walks on the beach life was truly serene. I found that my blood sugars started dropping incredibly, I had to cut the lantus 40 percent and sometimes not even use the novolog if my meals didn’t have many carbs. I made an appt with my endo who told me I was going through the honeymoon phase, I said to him so this is now twice since I have been diagnosed. He said that’s not possible, anyway I got really angry with him and my blood glucose sKY rocketed…and back to the usual dosage of insulin it was. As a third year year psychology major, it’s not that easy to treat. I believe medication is not the answer for mental disorders. The answer rests by balancing the chemicals within the brain, which science has not really been able to do just yet. But the military connection is definitely there, the sacrifices we all endured, leaving loved ones behind, missing out, being scared, these feelings all take a toll in our mental status, culture, religion, and society all affect t as well. So why doesn’t everyone who gets deployed or suffer traumatic experience develop ptsd or depression? Perhaps the answer is how individuals cope with stressors? Who knows right…but there are many studies that indicate diabetes causes depression and the why is certainly there, all diabetics now how frustrating it is to manage it. But now there are studies that also show depression or traumatic events that lead to mental disorders can contribute to autoimmune conditions.
So to all my type 1 compadres…remember your not alone, fight with your smile, sing in the shower, dance when you wake up, fight this miserable condition with bullets of happiness. It’s not about who and why, not for us anyway, it’s pointless. It’s about what to do now and how to protect others from being in our shoes, and wiping this condition from the face of the earth.

Sounds like me… 24, diagnosed with type 1 about two weeks ago. Got back from Kuwait in September after seven months.

Leave a comment