Why did a third of military conscripts fail their medical examinations?

A Lithuanian military conscript
DELFI / Mindaugas Ažušilis

Major Vilius Kočiubaitis, the chairman of the Military Medical Service’s Military Medical Examination Commission, spoke to 15min.lt about these concerns.

“In 2015, we held about 8,000 examinations. 61.4 percent of the conscripts examined were considered fit for service, 31 percent were considered unfit for services, and service was delayed for 7.6 percent of them. Service can be delayed due to acute diseases, trauma, or for having weight that is too high or low,” said Kočiubaitis.

Kočiubaitis insisted that the medical examinations are thorough, and that both general doctors and specialist experts in almost all fields are present on the medical commission. However, he did admit that conscripts unfit for duty did occasionally make it into service (about 15-20 per month), and later had to be excused. “For example, one young man didn’t complain of anything during his examination and his test results were good, but during his service, we ‘discovered’ that he had diabetes. We had to excuse him,” said Kočiubaitis.

Psychological illnesses or problems were the most significant reason for which conscripts were deemed unfit for duty. 34 percent of conscripts were unfit due to psychological issues, 31 due to internal organ ailments, 13 percent due to surgical illnesses, 7 percent due to ocular disabilities, and 4 percent each for ears, nose, throat, skin and nervous system illnesses.

However, Kočiubaitis said he does not believe that the system is easy to game. “I can’t imagine how that would be possible. We listen to every person’s complaints: if they say that something hurts, we examine them. But there is no such diagnosis as ‘pain.’ You can’t say ‘it hurts so much that I can’t serve.’ We look for the cause of the illness. If we can’t find it, we take that person to serve.”

During the medical examinations, Kočiubaitis said he has noticed certain medical tendencies among young people. “I am surprised that there are so many young people with high blood pressure. Obesity. Hearing disabilities. Spinal problems. These are illnesses that are caused by sitting in front of a computer and a lack of movement.”

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