Could a bifurcated thumb keep you out of the military?

I met a nice older gentleman the other night, WWII and Korean War vet, who had a bifurcated thumb. It looked natural but may not have been, I guess. It was both interesting and slightly squicky to see. The two halves could open and close horizontally, as he demonstrated when he held out his hand and picked up his daughter’s DL with the finger(s), and when I put my finger between he squeezed it quite tightly, leading me to exclaim “The Claw!” and making him laugh.

Anyway my question is, if it was a birth “deformity” wouldn’t that somehow make him ineligible for military service, similarly as if he was missing a finger? Can’t fit standard equipment, or somesuch? I’m not suggesting that he should have been, mind you, I’m just curious if he could have been refused.

Remember that WW2 was a different world in terms of recruiting. Back then, armies needed warm bodies that they could train for a few weeks, give a gun, and send them into the field to shoot the enemy, and they needed huge numbers of those bodies. Service was not exactly voluntary, and plenty of people malingered or feigned disability in order to be ruled medically ineligible, and I’m sure that in many cases bona-fide conditions were simply overlooked in order to make recruitment goals.

Nowadays, at least in countries like the US, the military can afford to pick and choose and there is a real message that joining is a privilege and not a right. They don’t want large numbers of bodies to throw at The Enemy ™, they want professionals who are dedicated to their job and can do complex things.

Sounds to me like it’s not any sort of handicap, so why would the military care?

That would depend on where the bifurcation begins and ends, if the thumb is capable of operating as a normal thumb should, if it can use standard equipment, and if it doesn’t “get in the way.” In peacetime, standards are going to be more rigorous than in wartime, simply because they don’t need the bodies.

It also depends on the examining doc. After I’d been enlisted in the Marines for six years I took a physical to go to OCS. The doc didn’t realize I was already a Marine and told me I could not join the Marine Corps because of my flat feet. My feet are completely flat.

I got my ID card showing him I was a Sergeant and explained that I’d been in for six years; to which he said, okay, you must be fine and he passed my physical.

Two of my grand-uncles were prevented from joining (or at least flying in) the US Air Force during WWII, due to flat feet. After being rejected, they headed up to Canada and ended up joining the Royal Canadian Air Force, who didn’t care about the feet and let one become a bomber pilot, and the other a bomber navigator.