SAS 'Most Impressive Candidate' starts the Right to Fight Campaign after being rejected from the Army for a food allergy...
The British Armed Forces are ineffective at recruiting. The company responsible, Capita, has failed to meet all recruitment targets for the last five years. After a wave of controversial army recruitment ads, the armed forces are not willing to let me, an SAS applicant who has been described by my interviewing officer as ‘amongst the most impressive candidates I have dealt with in my eight years at the assessment centre’, into its ranks.
Stated in my selection Official Report Summary, I made a ‘truly impressive effort’, I am ‘fit and robust, as well as bright and very determined' and I ‘coped easily with everything’. However, I will not be allowed to join any branch of the British Armed Forces due to a food allergy as a result of strict medical policies. Over 14,000 potential recruits were rejected from the army in 2017 over ‘medical restrictions.’
"I'm Here for the Army"
“The Army has stated to me that I can’t join with a food allergy because they can’t guarantee my safety. This dietary discrimination seems trivial as I am volunteering for combat at the highest level."
"The Commons Defence Committee were told in 2018 that the army had 77,000 fully trained troops compared with a target of 82,500. Considering that the army is 5,500 troops lower from where it needs to be, surely they would be able to find those missing troops out of the thousands it rejects each year for medical reasons simply by re-evaluating their medical policy?"
The Rt Hon. Mark Francois MP, the former Minister of State for the Armed Forces, highlighted these issues when recruiting new soldiers in a report for the Prime Minister. He wrote, ‘at a time when the armed forces are crying out for new recruits, they have to cope with a medical system which appears bureaucratic and inflexible, and also which often does not demonstrate sufficient attention to individual circumstances and medical histories.’
In an article for The Times, March 2019, Mark Francois MP stated that while medical standards should not be lowered that they need to be understood at a different level. ‘We should interpret them more intelligently, particularly for people who have minor ailments that they managed successfully in everyday civilian life, such as allergies or minor eczema. Capita are interpreting the medical guidelines in far too black and white a manner’.
Since October 2017, I have been appealing to army officials to counter my declined application based on the fact that I have never had to use an epi-pen for my allergies - the use of which is currently listed as a bar to service for all branches of the Armed Forces and for all roles.
I can't even apply for a desk job.
Surprisingly however, the Army Secretariat stated that as recently as 2018, 2,608 people were identified to have known allergies in the Army - that's 3.38%. The report states that 1,960 have been deployed at least once and across all operational theatres. This not only shows that those with allergies can perform on operations successfully, but are currently doing so in the British Army. What is going on?
At 28 years old, I have eaten over 30,000 meals without any reaction. I do test positive to a particular food, but it is only in a tightly controlled skin-prick test. That’s 245,000 hours of controlling my own allergy and being alert. I not only manage my allergy, but also thrive regardless. Discipline is a core army value.
The army medical standards, known as the ‘JSP 950,’ state that ‘army personnel need to be physically and mentally fit enough to train, serve and fight anywhere in the world.’
I have provided multiple examples of evidence to support my appeal, stating that my allergies did not affect my numerous years with Cadets and my brief time with the Military Intelligence Reserves (where strangely enough, I was allowed to join the Army), where I ate the exact same mess hall meals and ration packs as regular troops on operations.
In addition to this, I was unaffected during my time spent as a Bushcraft Survival Instructor, Kung Fu training at a martial arts academy in China, sea kayaking up the west coast of Scotland, trekking through the Indian Himalayas, training continuously in the Scottish Highlands to prepare for selection, or running a 1.5-mile fitness test in 8 minutes and 22 seconds at the assessment centre. The latter surpassed the ‘10 minutes and 30 seconds’ time limit needed to enter the Special Forces Reserves selection process. These are all examples of me being 'physically and mentally fit enough to train, serve and fight anywhere in the world.’
"I totally believe that my personal attributes can far outweigh any doubts for clearing me for service in the world’s most professional Army, and I believe there are many other potential soldiers who are in the same position as me. Whether they wish to join the Army, Royal Navy, Royal Marines or the RAF; either regular or reserve forces, and no matter what medical condition they have, I would urge them to come forward today."
We believe that the medical policy is unrealistic and far too strict. We have launched this campaign with the intent to change how recruit’s medical histories are scrutinised - especially when they do not affect how we would operate on the battlefield, at sea or in the air.
Why join the fight...
It's Your Dream Career
There are plenty of reasons to why you may wish to join the Armed Forces. For many, the ‘pull’ factors are far too great to ignore. Joining the Armed Forces is not a job, it’s a lifestyle choice, and a choice not taken lightly. You have thought about it - a lot, you know it’s for you and you have been courageous enough to apply… only to have your plans halted for medical reasons.
We aim to change perceptions regarding all medical ailments. The Right to Fight Campaign proposes that in the future, we as potential recruits would state our medical history on applying and demonstrate how it will not affect our ability to function effectively in the armed services. The MOD should allow us to prove ourselves during basic and trade training by demonstrating that we not only manage our medical conditions, but flourish nonetheless.
Find like-minded people
The majority of our efforts will go towards a public awareness campaign to gain the support of people like you - people who have been directly affected by the medical limitations.
To accomplish our aim, we will find out about as many of your stories as possible and to publicise them in local and national press, online and in print, as well as on social media and on YouTube.
This in turn will bring our cause to the spotlight and put public pressure on key decision makers to get things changed. Let's get people talking. You can help by sharing the campaign with friends, family, fans and followers.
What would you give for your dream career?
Please choose one of the donations to support us and fund our public awareness campaign to get the medical policies changed: