The New Zealand Defence Force requires all service members to be medically fit for military duties worldwide. Should you be selected, your initial training will be physically demanding, and later as enlisted members of the Defence Force, you may find yourself in situations which are physically and mentally challenging - both home and overseas. Therefore you will need to prove that you are medically fit prior to joining the service.
You will be required to complete a number of health checks throughout the application process, including having a full medical with an approved doctor (a list is provided to you during the recruitment process). This medical information will be reviewed by a Defence Force doctor to ensure that you meet the military health standard.
Your medical history is confidential and will not be divulged to anyone who is not authorised to hold the information.
In some cases your preferred role may not be available to you due to the particular health requirements of the trade, in which case your Candidate Co-ordinator may discuss other more suitable options with you. Please also contact your Candidate Co-ordinator if you are planning on having surgery before or during the application process, as there may be a stand down period before your application can be continued.
You are also required to be completely up to date with your vaccinations prior to enlistment. These include: Tetanus, polio, diphtheria, pertussis, MMR (measles, mumps and rubella) and Hepatitis B. Please check with your parents or your GP if you have records of receiving these as part of your childhood immunisation program. If you have not been immunised for Hepatitis B, it is best to start this process early, as it can take up to 6 months to receive the required 3 doses and may cause you to miss out on selection for the next intake.
It pays to be completely honest with us, and if you’re not sure about your medical history, then check with your Candidate Coordinator. Failure to disclose any past history of a condition that could have an impact on your performance will result in your application being declined. If failure to disclose medical information comes to light once you are enlisted, you may be released from the Defence Force.
The examples detailed below give an indication of some medical conditions that may make you unsuitable for military service.
Height and Weight
The minimum acceptable height is 1.52 m. There is no maximum height restriction but applicants over 1.96m may be unsuitable for specific trades.
The maximum acceptable weight is 125kg. The acceptable BMI range is 18 – 33, however we may consider BMI’s up to 36 if, on assessment, the BMI is found to be due to large muscle bulk.
Eyesight & Colour Vision
A high level of uncorrected and corrected vision is required, as certain trades need to perform complex tasks in conditions of limited visibility. The ability to see targets at a distance and distinguish signals is very important for you and your team’s safety. You may be unable to wear visual aids under certain conditions, especially in an emergency, so each trade has a minimum visual requirement which you must meet.
If you are considering corrective photorefractive surgery (such as LASIK), you will need to talk with your doctor and your Candidate Coordinator before proceeding, as some vision correcting procedures are not compatible with our medical standards.
Like the vision standards, you need to have a certain level of correct colour perception in order to perform your role within the Defence Force accurately. In many trades perfect colour perception is essential in order to interpret signals such as coloured lights that may relate to aircraft flight safety, map reading, and marine navigation. There are trade options for candidates with decreased colour perception, but you will need to have a discussion with your candidate coordinator about what you may be eligible for.
In general, any applicant who requires regular or long-term medication to control a medical condition (contraception excluded) will be unfit for service. This is because a supply of medications cannot be guaranteed in the deployed situation, medications may be destroyed/degraded (by heat and humidity), or unavailable for periods of time.
Allergies and dietary restrictions
Significant food or other allergies (especially if you have also had asthma or are required to carry an Epipen) are a limiting factor to entry.
While Coeliac Disease is manageable day to day within New Zealand, in certain situations (such as deployment) there may be limited dietary options for a prolonged period. In such situations there is a risk of complications ranging from gastrointestinal symptoms to nutritional deficiency. This has potential implications not only for the individual, but also those around them. The Defence Force has an obligation to minimise risk to the individual and the organisation wherever possible, and accordingly coeliac disease is a limiting factor to entry.
In general, people with asthma are not considered fit for operational service - and therefore not fit for military service. This is because training and service in the Defence Force requires people to undertake activities that pose a high risk of provoking asthma such as vigorous exercise, firefighting, contact with dust and other irritants, and exposure to changes in temperature. In addition, there can be limited medical and other facilities on Defence Force operations and exercises for treating an asthma attack, and this could have a very serious outcome if medical intervention was not possible.
If you wish to pursue a career in the Defence Force you will need to provide proof that your asthma is completely controlled, including a negative hypertonic saline challenge test and evidence that you are not on any long-acting beta agonist medication (eg Seretide).
Initial military training, military life and long periods of exercises and deployment can be stressful, involving separation from family and friends, cramped living conditions, lack of sleep, hunger and fatigue. Mental disorders can be aggravated by this lifestyle, so we need you to disclose if you have, or have had any mental conditions, including (but not limited to): Obsessive compulsive disorder and generalised anxiety disorders; depression, bipolar disorder; schizophrenia; drug alcohol dependence; ADHD requiring treatment; anorexia; bulimia.
Other medical conditions
Other conditions that limit entry to the Defence Force are:
- Diabetes mellitus
- High blood pressure (readings of 140/90 or above) and/or requirement for blood pressure medication
- Epilepsy (or seizures within the past 5 years)
- Severe headaches or migraines
- Chronic or recurring back pain
- Cancer within the last 5 years
- Chronic fatigue syndrome
- Severe acne and/or current use of Isotretinoin
- Widespread eczema
- Current pregnancy
- Severe polycystic ovarian syndrome