What conditions get you labeled as 4-F in the military

Obviously conditions like paraplegia, or missing limbs or blindness will get you labeled unfit for service.

But I get the impression some conditions that don’t seem that serious get you labeled 4-F. I heard up until Vietnam you couldn’t joint the military if you took any prescription medications. So if you were on blood pressure meds you were disqualified. Is this true? If so, when/why did it change?

What about braces? Does that get you disqualified? Vision problems that are correctable by glasses? Hearing problems corrected by hearing aids? Doesn’t almost everyone have at least ‘something’ wrong with them?

What about depression or anxiety? Occasional knee pain? Asthma?

IIRC: 4-F was not a military classification. 4-F was a Selective Service classification.

There’s no such thing as 4-F anymore, since we don’t have a draft anymore.

Yes, high blood pressure would keep you out of the draft back then. I’m told the reason why is that if you served 90 days, and then they discovered you had high blood pressure, they might have to medically retire you.

There were a slew of things that could keep you out. From acne on your back (severe I suppose, so as to not be able to wear a back back) to problems with your feet that prevented marching. There were some mental issues and some related to IQ. Back at that time, attorneys made a practice out of helping those who did not want to go into the military avoid service. There were special doctors sympathetic to the anti-draft movement who likewise provided medical opinions/diagnoses (but not treatments) seeking to help a person be excluded from the draft.

Early on, just being married would exclude you, but that quickly changed to married with kids. That quickly evaporated and marital, parenthood status didn’t matter at all.

IQ was another factor they tested for. However, they got around that with McNamara’s 100 thousand. (google it, it’s pathetic)

The problem was that anyone graduating from high school basically has his life in turmoil for a few years. Either he went to college (2S deferment) or he enlisted, or waited to be called. Finally they set up a lottery which resulted in a drawing of birth dates, and, in that order, being called to serve.

I remember smoking some @#$%@% on the government bus on the way to the Induction center in LA for the physical. (that’s where the mandatory pre-draft physicals were given) That was a real joke. Can you write your name and pee warm pee? Cool your government needs you. You walked into the entry way and there you were stopped by a Sergeant. He pointed to two doors. one (the right) led to the medical processing area. The one on the left, led to a glass room with benches and about a half dozen souls sitting there looking like they were waiting for a bus to hell. The sergeant pointed out that we could behave and go home that night, or, if we didn’t, we would be told to sit in the glass room, and later that night we’d be picked up and transported to basic training. We all behaved rather well.

It was a shitty time for young men in America.

ETA, broken bones, things like that would just get you rescheduled a few months down the road. Depression, I doubt it. Asthma, possibly.

Hearing and serious vision flaws and the one everyone prayed for - flat feet. As I recall, diabetics and similar that needed regular medication was an instant out as well.

I dislocated my knee and had surgery at 15. At 18 I was told no one would take me except the Navy, which is where I wanted to go anyways.

Only because of my high test scores did they send me to 2 specialists to get a waver.

My dad was 4-F from WWII and Korea due to flat feet. When I enlisted in the Navy, I failed my first physical due to the acne on my back. I was given time to clear it up, but was told that I could not use Tetracycline. I had friends who helped my with Oxy for the next few weeks, and it mostly cleared up. I got in, but my “Backne” still bothers me. You would think that at 45 I would be done with puberty.

Gregg Allman shot himself in the foot to get out of the draft.

Overweight or underweight. Some guys ate themselves into obesity or starved themselves down for the physical. However, IIRC, that could just get you retested in a few months, too, if you weren’t that far over the line. I had a 2S, but I was the last year that could get one. They did away with that deferment for the last couple years of the draft. The 2S deferred you until you graduated from college. There was also a 1S that just let you finish out your current school year. Your draft board tried to dissuade you from the 2S by pointing out that it increased your eligibility by 2 years for every year you were deferred.

“Always carry a purse” … you always heard that one thing they would not question, and simply reject you for, is if you told them you were a homosexual. However, that would get you a permanent record of that “fact” following you around. In the 1970s that was not something you wanted, whether you were actually gay or straight. I don’t believe it actually worked as advertised anyway.

(That bit was used by Dr. Freedman on “MASH” to call Klinger’s bluff at one point, too.)

Boy, that was a while ago, but anecdotally, these three conditions resulted in 4-F at my exam:
[li]Extra vertebra (born with) + 2 fractured vertebrae (fell out of a tree) [Me. My 20/400 vision would not have made me 4-F][/li][li]Flat feet [body builder standing next to me in exam room, all muscle, but he had no arches at all][/li][li]Eczema [High School acquaintance in same group; both legs a rashy mess][/li][/ul]

ETA: This was in 1970, when the need for people was pretty high.

There was a story about a guy who in 1965, got a 4-F for a conviction for Littering and Creating a Public Nuisance.

See Alice’s Restaurant.
(Arlo Guthrie)

Yes, it “worked as advertised” . . . at least in my case. That’s because in my case it was true. You had to go into a little room, and be interviewed by some kind of doctor/shrink, behind a desk. If you were very effeminate and lisped, he was very good at weeding out the fakes. But if you acted like a normal gay young man, you stood a better chance. I remember he asked about how I met men, and my history with women. I just answered truthfully and got a 1-Y. Or it may have been the skin-tight white jeans, which were a sure sign back in the 60s, but not so over-the-top.

My Uncle was classified as 4-F because of migraines.

But that dude also got good and drunk the night before, so he looked and felt his best when he went in there that morning.

As for me: I got classified 4-F, circa 1970, due to a letter a doctor wrote to my draft board – A doctor that I hadn’t seen for two years. But the doc didn’t send me a copy, and I was too dumb at the time to ask him for one. To this very day, I don’t know what that letter said, or why I was 4-F. But I wasn’t complaining, of course. This was at the height of the Vietnam “war”. I assumed, possibly wisely, that having gotten my treasured 4-F classification, I should just STFU and leave it be.

I saw a list of medical conditions that could get one marked 4-F. Colleges were full of draft counselors in those days, with publications like that, or other advice on how to beat the draft. Pacifist groups like the Quakers had publications like that. One way to get 4-F was to have your penis amputated. They didn’t want guys who had to sit down to pee, I guess.

My big brother enlisted in the Army the day he graduated from high school (in 1959, so no major wars going on then other than the Cold one). Got out in 1962 or 1963, went to college, joined ROTC, planned to make a military career – then after all that, got rejected for OCS because of high blood pressure.

ETA: Just recently, maybe 5 years ago, I wrote to the Selective Service folks to ask if I could get a copy of that letter. I mean, this is modern government. They keep ALL records on EVERYTHING, FOREVER, right? Not quite. They wrote back that all they had anymore from that era was some skeletal summary data, but not the actual source documents. And here, all this time, I though that everyone in government kept ALL records on EVERYTHING, FOREVER. So to this day, I don’t know why I was classified 4-F.

Regarding the homosexual thing : they didn’t have computers, then. Just paper files. If you got D-Qed for being gay, how likely was this to follow you around? Could employers even get the records?

I mean, we all know now that the FBI had a lot of BS FBI files on a lot of folks. But how many of those files even mattered? I mean, didn’t the FBI have bigger fish to fry than a few weenies who got out of the draft for being queer? They had commie radicals and stuff to chase back then, did they not?

Ahem. Nobody’s classified now, but when (if) conscription is activated, men subject to conscription will be classified as shown in that link.

In one of Feynman’s books, probably Surely You’re Joking, he told how he was rejected for psychiatric reasons just for answering questions perfectly honestly. And this was during WWII. He even tried to tell them it was a mistake, which of course confirmed their opinion.

Also during WWII, Byron Nelson was rejected for some kind of bleeding disorder (but not hemophilia), and his pal Jug McSpadden was rejected for allergies. The two of them set all kinds of records on the PGA Tour in 1944 and 1945 playing against very depleted fields, Nelson for the most wins, and Jug for the most 2nd place finishes, among others.

I was very nearsighted, but they took me.

It is going to depend on how badly they need people. I had an uncle who was blind in one eye and was drafted. He was a crack hydromatic (the GM automatic transmission) mechanic and they sent him to Florida where he repaired tanks. By the time, I became eligible in 1955 I was a student and then a grad student and then teaching math, all of which got you a deferment in those days. But their needs were modest in those days, before VietNam heated up. Then I was past 26 and, while my deferments left me eligible till 35, they just didn’t want us ancient folks.

I had two different friends who got classified 4F by simply showing up for the physical without underpants. When told to strip to his underpants he told them he wasn’t wearing any. They told him to keep his pants on and he was the only person in this large room, save for the examiners, wearing pants. He felt like a freak and they deferred him, although without giving any reason. The second friend, having heard this story, did the same thing and was also deferred. I’m not sure I could have pulled this off, but was never called for a physical.

On the subject of flat feet, I had two medical physicals in the 1980s, one to clear me for NROTC, and my pre-commissioning physical a few years later. I was cleared medically in both physicals.

Interestingly, in neither case was I asked to remove my socks. Good thing, because I have no arches whatsoever.

I’ve heard anecdotally that flat feet is less of an issue since the Vietnam era, and that they now distinguish between congenital flat feet and collapsed arches due to injury. That being said, I suspect that if you have flat feet today, and claim to experiencing problems related to this, that you will likely not be cleared medically for military service.