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?

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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.

I joined the military in 1998. I was diagnosed in 2009 with “Gestational”, but my doctor was confident it was Type 1 at that time. Sure enough, I was officially diagnosed type 1 in 2010. The military medically separated me in 2011. After 12.5 years of service in the AF as a flyer, I was thrown to the curb like a bag of trash.

My father was diagnosed with Type 1 IDDM at age 19 yrs just after his military service at the end of WW2. If the war had continued any longer he would not have survived. You could see in photos at the end of the war, how he had “shrunk” in body mass compared to his colleagues.
I went on to develop T1 diabetes, and my son was diagnosed at 2yrs of age. He would like to join the military, but I cannot see how the disease in the form that my father and son have, can permit any kind of reliable service; they are/were so unstable. I do know of some with a T1 diagnosis, myself included, that dont have such a hard time with it at all. Maybe soon, they will be able to determine genetic sub-types, so that not all T1s are classified under one health definition? There is a real danger in conscripting some T1s, whilst others may be fine.

Served in army (11C) 96-99…i dont think i was given the anthrax vac. as it was just started to be talked about and given when i got out. Diagnosed type1 in 2001. Did receive possible concussion about 9 months prior to diagnosis. Started having hypoglycemic issues for first time in my life in the months leading up to diagnosis.
Like most type 1s I am always hunting for a connection especially since diagnosis occurred at age 23.

It’s gut wrenching to hear these stories of Type 1’s getting discharged on 20% and kicked to the curb. PEB’s and MedBoards will do their best to con you. CFR 38 Part 4 only accounts for Type 2’s because Type 1’s shouldn’t have been in service to begin with. If you had no signs of Type 1 when you entered service and were later diagnosed with Type 1 on Active Duty, then you developed an incurable disease while in service, which is required to be rated no less than 30% and full medical retirement regardless of time in service. They took advantage of your lack of knowledge and screwed you because they some jackwad wanted to keep you off the DOD’s budget and shift you to the VA while depriving you of the full military benefits you earned. By doing this, they are in breach of contract. If you’ve already been booted you will need a lawyer and also your Congress critters toget it corrected. The regulations are clear, Type 1’s are a whole special category than Type 2’s. If you know anyone that gets diagnosed Type 1, tell them not to accept anything less than 30% and full medical retirement. If you call them on it before discharge, they have to do it. Also, anyone over 5 years of service with a minimum of 30% rating, must be medically retired per military regulation. I was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease after 5 years, placed on medhold 6 months past my EAOS and retired. I had a colonoscopy and when the anesthesia wore of the doctor said, “You’re retired.”

I was diagnosis with type 1 three years after returning home from Iraq 2003.please connect me 3176934396

Has anybody been successful in making a connection between service and diabetes 1? The VA decline my son ‘s claim.

I was diagnosed with type 1 five months after returning home from Saudi Arabia for Dessert Storm. I went to sick call after because my vision became blurry and I had lost a lot of weight. Sick call told me to drink more water and gave a different phx for glasses. I lost more weight, vision blurred again, kept going to sick call, was unable to sleep or drive very far (Had to urinate every couple of minutes). Military doctors changed my glasses phx again but still was unable to diagnose the problem. By the time it was diagnosed I had gone from close to 200 lbs. to close to 100 lbs. Glucose was over 1400 according to nurse. I was discharged and given a 20% V.A. disability rating. I asked for my rating to be increased so they labeled me with erectile disfunction. I filled out paperwork from Dissabled American Veterans and asked them to represent me. I asked for P.T.S.D. consideration because I lost almost half my weight. They denied it and on put in the Disabilities section of “My health-e-vet” That I asked for PTSD because I abused alcohol(I had told a Dr. or nurse that I had 1 drink per day sometimes, sometimes none).Because of that entry I also have been denied S.S. So be very careful no one at any government agency is there to help, especially the doctors and nurses. Talk only to lawyers is advice I wish I would have received.

My son that is 30 has been diagnose with type 1 diabetes with sugar level of 1000.Has been sent home with insulin. He also has blurred vision and has lost 40 lbs. in just 2 months, was physically fit worked out twice a day. Was in the Marines and was deployed over to Afganistan. My son has been diagnosed with anxiety disorder which stress seems to cause sugar levels to has been 4 years since he has been out of the military but has not been the man he was before he went to Afganistan, Struggles every day with this anxiety.
Seems storage alot of military personnel that has been in Afganistan and Iraq and oversees have been diagnose with type 1 diabetes.Was told that some of the shots that have to be taken to be out of country are being related back to diabetes not sure how true that is.

My fiancé 30 years old was just diagnosed with Type 1 after coming back from training in Alabama December 2015, he is a Veteran we did receive all the anthrax and small pox vaccines while at MOB station FT Lewis WA in 2005, has been in the ARMY NG going on 13 years. He is with a UAV unit works full time for the military as a Training NCO. We fear the worst after reading all the comments and stories of all the service members being screwed on their disability %’s. Recently he had his PHA where he mentioned to the physician that he was being treated for possibly being diabetic. He was told he would be sent to the Medboard where his faith would be decided anywhere between a few months up to a year. It’s really affecting him the fact that he is most likely just going to be booted out after 13 years and who knows if he will get any help with medical care or anything for that matter. Any light sent our way regarding this would be greatly appreciated.

Comment from Alex Luchsinger:

Also looking for any leads here. I was diagnosed w/T1D 4 years ago. I served in Iraq as a Marine, was hit by an IED, exposed to many blasts and burning materials and have a TBI and anxiety. I was, and still am, in very good shape and have no family history of Type 1/2D. I was told, and I emphasize ‘told’, that this is becoming more prevalent for OIF/OEF veterans and studies are likely to be conducted. I’d appreciate any help if anyone has something to offer:

Practical writing , Just to add my thoughts , people require a Canada T1 General Form , my business encountered a blank document here

Deployed to Desert Storm & Desert Shield (1991-1992). In 1998, 2 years prior to retirement, I had reached stage 2 of evolving beta-cell dysfunction with a FBS reading of 94 MG/DL; stage 2 of evolving beta-cell dysfunction is when glucose levels rise to levels of 89–116 mg/dl. A year after (1999) had a FBS 101 MG/DL, which is considered impaired fasting glucose; this was a year prior to retirement. Another FBS 101 MG/DL only three months after retirement. Same reading repeated one 1 year after retirement. Reached FBS 113 MG/DL only 2 years after retirement. Jumping to FBS 210 MG/DL only 2 yrs and 11 months after retirement. Was mistakenly diagnosed as DM Type 2. Diagnosis later corrected to DM 1.5 or LADA. My medical records now show DM Type 1 since 2003.
VA denied service connection based on: Service treatment records showed no complaints, treatment or a diagnosis of DM and that medical evidence from ___ does not show a diagnosis within one year after discharge. Evidence has not been provided to show that diabetes mellitus (DM) was incurred in or aggravated by military service.

Just found out I have type 1 insulin dependent after 15 years in and a bunch of deployments. The base will soon be screwing me I’m sure

I spent 6 years in the Navy. Did 1 big deployment, multiple extended underways, and too many short underways to count. I was a radar technician and in great physical shape. I injured my back and was removed from the ship life. I was allowed to stay in until my end of contract. While on shore, I developed signs of diabetes, but didn’t realize thats what it was. “I was too active and ate too healthy for it to be that.” A year and a half after getting out of the navy, I lost my sense of smell and taste then became excessively thirsty all the time. I was diagnosed type 1 diabetic with an inital blood sugar of about 450. I am now on a pump and going to the VA soon to file a claim. Looking back on my records, my fasting glucose wentfrom 84 when I first got in the navy to 112 just before I left my ship. My last eye exam in the navy mentioned early onset glaucoma.

I was misdiagnosed with Type II at my retirement physical in 2010. After six months and getting sicker it turned out to be Type I. It took a civilian doctor in Germany to do this. The doctor wanted a copy of my medical records to investigate vaccinations etc. Surprise, my records were no where to be found. I filed against the V.A. and they rolled over pretty quickly once they made a decision and more or less told me to never contact them again in regards to my decision/rating (100%) working disabled. A couple of deployments in the Middle East and Bosnia twice. I had the full regime of vaccinations to include Anthrax, Small Pox (x2) and others. It happens and without confirmation from the military a real expert cannot determine the cause.

3 months after coming back from Iraq I was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes and discharged from my 11 year carrer. I have been serviced connected through the VA but I am concerned if its related to my military service. No one in my family has ever had type 1 diabetes and I have never been out of shape or poor lifestyle. Just wondering if it could be connected?

I also been diagnosed after a deployment to Afghanistan and I currently still serve as a Type 1. I also was told about a study on the body that received vaccinations to include Anthrax, Small Pox and others. These vaccinations are not exactly what they say they are and effect the body differently, I bet if more Type 1 Ex-Soldiers knew about this they would make a big deal.

Well, it looks to me like I see a vtrend and I’m in the same bucket with you all. I also am disgusted by the way the VA works to screw you. I’ve learned a great deal about my issues and about what should have been. I’ll elaborate on that later. I joined the USAF in 2002 and I was medically separated (severance) in 2009 at 20% rating for type 1. In my time in, I saw time in Saudi Arabia in 2003, Qatar in 2004, and Iceland in 2005/2006. I came back to the Pentagon and was diagnosed as type 1 in Jan 2008. I lost my vision and that’s how it was discovered. There are type 2s in my family but no type 1s and as we know, they are completely different issues. I paid $6500 to a lawyer to fight for 40% and still lost by getting a 20% rating. I’ve asked to be re-rated again in 2016 and again the VA came back denying it….why? Because they are evil…literally. They key in on the “regulation of activities”. I’m sure you all know this. What’s worse, after I scheduled the C&P exam at the advice of my PCM at the VA, while they didn’t increase my rating of 20%, they instead decided they wanted my severance pay back, 7 years after-the-fact!? I’m telling you, this is very low stuff. Because of all this on-top-of those facts, I wasn’t given retirement. This equates to thousands of dollars others can somehow get, but for some reason with the exact same issues, I cannot. I feel horrible that I put faith in my country to take care of us. I supported OEF, OIF, and HOA operations as I was part the 9th Air Force assigned to CENTCOM. Glad to see I’ve been pissed on. Yes, I took all of the scheduled anthrax shots as well. Good luck everyone and please keep me in the loop as I’m fighting a different battle now as are you. God Bless!

Deployed to a remote site in Germany for 45 days, I contracted Diabetic Ketoacidosis. My doctors missed the labs and Diagnosed me with Type 2 Diabetes. The Dr. disregarded my 26 pound weight loss in 3 weeks. PEB determined me as “Fit for active duty”. I was eventually was Chapter 61 after serving 19 years, 4 months and 26 days. My diabetes was rated 40% plus extra for diabetic complications. My total disability is 90% with 100% unemployability. Since I did not serve 20 years, I lost my CRDP chances.

I am now trying for CRSC as I studied my medical records, found lab that states “Large Ketones” in urinalysis. I found a document on long-term exposure to MRE’s dated 1984. In it, shows Vitamin B6 Toxicity after 2 week of eating MREs. Toxicity increased from there until the study ended, 34 days.

I don’t know if B6 Toxicity created DM1, but Peripheral Neuropathy has been associated with B6 Toxicity. I became DM1 and Peripheral Neuropathy at the same time. This was not associated with long-term diabetes, as I received it at the same time.

Anyone diagnosed with Peripheral Neuropathy at the same time?

AR 40-501 states when and when not to deploy Diabetics. See if that helps anyone attempt to classify me under serving with in Hazardous Service (HS) as my command insisted on deploying me, knowing it risked my health.

Good Luck and God Bless

I was diagnosed as Type I in 2004 after deployments to OEF I and OIF I back to back. Looking for anyone that was at Fort Campbell during that time who also was diagnosed.

I am also a victim of more of the same story. I was deployed to support OIF, OEF, and numerous training exercise OCONUS I enlist in the Army in 2000 supporting special operations. because of the constant deployment and first boot on the ground to support the wars. I took many and all the early scheduled mandatory Anthrax shots and many more shots I have no idea how they were going to affected me. In 2006, I was Diagnosed with Diabetes Type 1, shortly after my departure from Active duty in 2004. I have since trying to get rating for the Type 1 and VA relentlessly denies my claim. Like many people here, there are no history of type 1 in my family but Type 2 which many had late in their adulthood. lets say (Around 50 years old. I am keen to believe that the anthrax shot contributed, if not the main cause of my Type 1. I hope that the VA will own up to it and not wait till we are 100 years old or dead. Just like Agent Orange situation.

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