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DENVER -- There is a previously unknown side-effect of COVID-19: It could keep you from joining the U.S. military.
The Defense Department has begun barring the enlistment of would-be military recruits who have been hospitalized with COVID-19 unless they get a special medical waiver.
Those who test positive but did not require hospitalization, according to the Pentagon memo on this policy, can enlist. They have to wait 28 days after the diagnosis and will be cleared for military service 28 days after they finish home isolation with no waiver required.
It's not clear how many potential recruits this will affect.
So you can't join even after you get better... if coronavirus put you in the hospital.
You can enlist in the armed forces if you had the flu and got better even if it put you in the hospital.
It's possible to enlist if you've had a DUI, most STDs, ADHD and THC, FYI.
So how in the world can the Pentagon derail your military aspirations because of a disease you used to have?
It seems especially cold to take away an attractive career option in this suddenly bleak job environment.
Republican Congressman Andy Biggs from Arizona says this pandemic has stoked the fires of patriotism and duty and that we shouldn't waste a willingness to serve. He says, “if an individual can pass the military entrance processing station screening process ― despite a hospitalization for coronavirus ― they should be allowed to serve.”
However, there is a quote in the DoD memo that sums up the defense of this policy: "Residual and long-term health effects for individuals with severe outcomes, such as hospitalization or admission to an intensive care unit from COVID-19 are unknown.”
That's the key there - unknown.
It's unknown if contracting this virus causes permanent organ damage. It's unknown if you can get it more than once. It's unknown if having it puts you at greater risk of getting it again. I mean, it's also unknown if it gives you super powers. But the point is, nobody knows yet. This is brand new.
And the Pentagon has to protect the 1.3 million men and women who protect us.
Is this policy fair? It's unknown. This is everyone's first pandemic and we're all trying to figure it out. Even the Joint Chiefs of Staff.