Can You Get Drafted if You Have Flat Feet – 2023 Updated

Written by

John Cotton


Logan Miller

can you get drafted if you have flat feet

Are you ready to enlist, but read somewhere that not all people with flat feet get drafted? So, can you get drafted if you have flat feet?

When a person has a flat foot, one or both feet has little to no arch. Having flat feet isn’t life-threatening or problematic for most people. More than 20% of the population has flat feet.

But if you wish to serve in the military, it could be an issue, especially if you join certain military branches. Since 2016, anyone can now join the military with flat feet as long as it isn’t a symptom of a more severe condition.

You must also agree to possible further testing in order to be deemed physically fit for military service.

Military Standards for Flat Feet


In the past, flat-footedness is considered an automatic military disqualification. Having flat feet can lead to health issues such as knees, back, and ankle weakness.

However, this rule has been changed since 2016. Now, being flat-footed doesn’t disqualify military service automatically unless the deformity is so severe that it is evident even with shoes on.

One way to assess your chances in the military is to learn if you have asymptomatic or symptomatic flat feet.

Symptomatic vs Asymptomatic Flat Feet


Everybody is born with flat feet, but about 8 out of 10 of them develop arches starting at age 6. The rest continue adulthood with flat feet, but most do not feel pain.

This means the person has asymptomatic flat feet and (passes other physical fitness requirements) would likely be accepted into the military.

When flat feet cause pain in the heel, arches, or outside of the foot and hurt your physical abilities, you have symptomatic flat feet. Other symptoms include leg cramps, muscle fatigue or muscle pain in the foot or leg, pain when walking, or gait changes.

The Tests to Assess Flat Feet

1. Unofficial Flat Foot Footprint Test


Anyone can find out if they are flat-footed or not. Just wet your feet and stand on a dry section of your bathroom, floor, or even a piece of paper that will show your footprint.

If the shape of your footprint looks full or wide, you have flat feet.

2. Official Podoscope Test


If you visit a podiatrist, you’ll be stepping onto a podoscope. This box-like device examines a patient’s footprints, analyzes foot arch, and diagnoses other serious foot conditions such as tendon problems, congenital malformation, and toe deformation, among others.

3. X-rays

X-rays may also help in checking a patient’s feet bone structure and getting a closer look at how their arches look when sitting, standing, or walking.

Military Waivers & Exceptions that Allow People with Flat Feet in the Army

Generally, a person won’t be allowed to serve in the US military for two reasons: (1) if the flat foot is accompanied by severe pain and (2) if the person is wearing or needs corrective footwear.

This flat feet policy may also slightly vary between every military branch.

1. US Navy Seal


Even flat-footed people can join the Navy Seal, but prepare to work beyond 16 hours daily, most of which are on your fee. Your foot will be examined at the Military Entrance Processing Station (MEPS).

Like many flat-footers, there’s a chance you’ll receive an “at first disqualification” result. However, you can submit a medical waiver (after consulting a foot specialist).

Just note that the waiver doesn’t guarantee acceptance – it will still be deliberated and decided on a case-to-case basis.

2. US Air Force

If you wish to join the Air Force and become a pilot, having flat feet, knocked knees or even bowed knees is unfortunately not allowed.

Of course, you can always consult a podiatrist and have your feet fixed before signing up. You can also try your luck and let the physician at the Military Entrance Processing Station (MEPS) decide.

If you’re interested in other non-flying Air Force roles, being flat-footed would not matter. The US Air Force would gladly enlist you into their program.

3. US Marines


The US Marines have no particular policy about flat feet, which means as long as you’re asymptomatic, your chances of passing the MEPs and physical exam are high.

4. US Coast Guard

Included on the US Coast Guard’s list of common disqualifying medical conditions are those with symptomatic “Pes planus” (the scientific known for having flat feet).

If you’re flat-footed without any pain, then enlist with the USCG. If your flat-footedness is called out during the physical exam, just let the physician know you have no symptoms associated with the condition.

5. US Army


To join the army, the Army Medical Recruiter will conduct a physical exam. If this exam shows you have flat feet, they will request a further assessment by a qualified Podiatrist, who will assess your foot pain, lower limb function, and activities that could impact any military duties.

Like other military branches, if the podiatrist concludes that your condition is symptomatic, you will be disqualified from enlisting in the US Army.

How to Get Drafted if You Have Flat Feet?

Technically, the United States has not had a military draft since 1973. Should war break, the Congress and the president would have to authorize a draft and, in turn, require eligible young men to serve the country.

  • In the past, when drafting was still a thing, young men who didn’t want to fight the Vietnam War evaded being drafted by intentionally failing the foot test. They knew that flat feet were not allowed in the military and flattened their arches for weeks or months before their physical exams.
  • According to the Army’s studies in recent years, many people with flat feet have no symptoms and do very well in sports and other environments that supposedly would cause stress to a flat-footed individual.

How to Prevent and Treat Flat Feet

Genetics can play a role in whether you have a flat foot. If this is the case, your condition is beyond your control.

If flat feet are caused by obesity or pregnancy, doctors would recommend you maintain a healthier weight to reduce pressure on your feet.

People who suffered from adult-acquired flat feet (also known as fallen arches) had arched feet for most of their teenage and adult years but dropped or collapsed. This kind of flat foot is often due to inflammation or leg tendon tears leading to intense pain.

Treatment ranges from short-term anti-inflammatory drugs, ice packs and rest, long-term physical therapy, or wearing of foot/leg supportive devices.

Surgery is rarely necessary but required in cases when patients suffer from fallen arches due to tendon tearing or bone issues.


Can you get drafted if you have flat feet?

If the US goes back to drafting civilians, you don’t have to worry about having flat feet. Most military branches will accept you today as long as you have asymptomatic flat feet.

Being flat-footed shouldn’t doom you into a life you don’t want. If your heart has always been ready to serve in the military, now you know you still have a chance.

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