Medical Requirements for the U.S. Army National Guard

Those applying to join the Army National Guard are subject to the medical requirements outlined in AR 40-501.

Serving in the military, in any capacity, can be a physically demanding endeavor. Thus, in order to either enlist or apply for a commission in the Army National Guard, applicants must meet the medical requirements outlined in Army Regulation (AR) 40-501. These guidelines serve to eliminate applicants that have physical or mental conditions that would endanger themselves or others in the line of duty or would interfere with the completion of their day-to-day duties.

1 General health

Because of the wide variety of medical conditions that could possibly limit a person's physical activity, AR 40-501 dedicates a full 35 sections to describing conditions that could be disqualifying for Army National Guard applicants. While it is not necessary to memorize every last one of these requirements, as a general rule applicants should be in good physical and mental condition and free of any chronic diseases or defects.

This includes having a healthy heart free of any irregularities, normal flexibility of all limbs and extremities and a lack of debilitating illness such as cancer, AIDS or HIV.

2 Body composition

In order to join the Army National Guard, applicants must have a body shape that is conducive to physical activity. Thus, the Army measures the height and weight of all candidates and requires that they meet specific regulations in order to join. All applicants must meet a minimum and maximum weight standard that varies depending on their height, age and sex (see Tables 2-1 and 2-2 of AR 40-501). For example, a 25-year-old male at 6-foot-3 would be required to weigh at least 143 pounds and no more than 220.

3 Vision

Those joining the Army National Guard must also meet basic vision requirements. Applicants must have near vision correctable to no worse than 20/40 and distant vision correctable to 20/20 in one eye and 20/400 in the other. For those with distant vision that isn't correctable to 20/20 in one eye, exceptions will be made provided one eye is correctable to 20/30 and the other is correctable to 20/100 or if one eye is correctable to 20/40 and the other is correctable to 20/70.

Note that, while these are the basic requirements, other candidates entering fields such as aviation will be subjected to stricter requirements. These are outlined in Chapter 4 of AR 40-501 entitled Medical Fitness Standards for Flying Duty.

4 Asthma

Army National Guard applicants must be free of any respiratory problems that would interfere with the physical nature of their work. One of the most prevalent of these diseases is asthma, which is disqualifying if reliably diagnosed at any age.

5 Mental illness

To join the Army National Guard, applicants must be of a sound state of mind and free from any mental illnesses or disorders. This includes mental issues that required either treatment by a mental health professional for more than six months or hospitalization of any kind. In addition, candidates must have a relatively clean criminal record with no history of anti-social behavior or substance addiction.

Marshall Moore is a freelance sports writer with three years of experience in the daily newspaper industry and has won multiple awards from the Kansas Press Association for his writing and reporting. He graduated from the University of Texas at Austin in 2007 with a degree in journalism.