Saturday, January 28, 2017

Humor in Uniform – The Mystery of the Military Medical Category


Doctor’s Orders

A Fictional Spoof

MEDICAL CATEGORY  A Spoof by Vikram Karve

During my long service in the Navy  I “enhanced” a lot of things.

I enhanced my academic qualifications.

I enhanced my knowledge.

I enhanced my expertise.

I enhanced my world-view.

I enhanced my personality

And  I even enhanced my physical attributes – especially my weight.

But  the one thing I could not enhance was my “medical category”.

When I joined the Navy as an Officer  my Medical Category was S1 A1

And  when I retired from the Navy  more than 34 years later  my Medical Category was still S1 A1

I could not achieve even a small incremental enhancement in my Medical Category  even temporarily.

Not even for one moment could I achieve a slightly higher” Medical Category like S2 A1 or S2 A2 – of course I never dreamt of achieving greater heights like S3 A3 S4 A4 or S5 A5

Throughout my entire Naval career  my Medical Category remained consistently constant at S1 A1” – the lowest Medical Category.

By strange military logic – if you achieved a higher” Medical Category like S2 A2 S3 A3 S4 A4” etc – the Doctors said that you were in Low Medical Category (LMC).

How can S1 A1” be High Medical Category – and  S3 A3” be Low Medical Category...? 

Is the number 3 lower than the number 1...? 

But then – Mathematics has never been a strong point of Doctors – even at 10+2 level – Mathematics is not required if you intend studying Medicine.

The only time I was hospitalized  towards the end of my career  was for Malaria – and I thought they would enhance my Medical Category – to S2 A2 – maybe to S3 A2 – or even to S3 A3 – or even higher.

But nothing happened.

After a couple of days  when my Malaria began to abate  and just I was beginning to enjoy my stay in hospital  they suddenly discharged me  and threw me out of the hospital  straight back to work  as they were short of beds due the sudden arrival of a few “serious” cases.

And  while discharging me unceremoniously from hospital  the Navy Doctors did not even have the courtesy or decency to enhance my Medical Category.

So  I remained in my lifelong “lowly” and unimpressive Medical Category of S1 A1

Yes – I remained a lowly S1 A1 from “womb to tomb” (to put it metaphorically).

Well  if there is a Navy Doctor reading this  maybe he will be able to explain the significance of medical categories ranging from S1 A1 to S5 A5 – with all permutations and combinations like S2 A1 S2 A2 S3 A2 etc etc


The Army likes to do things differently from the Navy

So – the Army have named their medical categories from SHAPE 1 onwards to SHAPE 5 :


And – there are even more possibilities for permutations and combinations in Medical Category like S1 H2 A3 P4 E5 etc etc – to make it all the more confusing for Army Officers  who are most confused anyway.

Now – this Army Medical Category called SHAPE has nothing to do with the “shape” of your body.

This is evident from the fact that you will see many “Out of Shape” Army Pongos in Medical Category SHAPE1. 

Will some “Fauji” Doctor be good enough to tell us all about the Army Medical Category SHAPE” 

And also – please enlighten us on why some SHAPE 1 “Faujis” look so much “out of shape” 


In the Air Force they call their medical categories A1 G1 A2 G2 …. A5 G5” etc

Yes – the fittest” Medical Category in the Air Force is A1 G1” 

Is A1 G1the same as “S1 A1or “SHAPE1...? 

Are Aviators in the Army and Navy required to be A1 G1...? 

Or – is it okay if they are “S1 A1” or “SHAPE1...? 

It is all very confusing – isn’t it...?


It is all very confusing and puzzling to me.

“Fauji” Military Doctors keep changing the colour of their uniforms 

Like chameleons  they flit and frolic about  between the Army, Navy and Air Force.

Basically  all “Fauji” doctors are the same  and  all of them belong to the Army Medical Corps (AMC).

I have not understood one thing.

The 3 Defence Services – Army Navy and Air Force – all have the same AMC Doctors.

Then – why does each Service have its own style of Medical Categories:

“SHAPE” for the Army

“S1 A1 S2 A2... etc for the Navy

“A1 G1 A2 G2... etc for the Air Force...?

The 3 Defence Services have the same Doctors.

But  the 3 Defence Services have different Medical Categories.

Is this one more feather in the cap of “jointmanship”...?


(The Story of the Officer with a Perpetual “Medical Category”)

“Enhancing” your medical category gives you a lot of advantages  like it did to my friend “D”.

“D” was a master at malingering.

An ex-NDA officer  on the very first day of our training  “D” was missing from morning Physical Training (PT).

When questioned about his absence from PT by the Senior-Under-Training-Officer (SUTO)  “D” answered triumphantly: “I am a “Medical Category”...”

(In colloquial Naval parlance  this meant that “D” had an “enhanced” Medical Category).

During his entire training period  his “medical category” was his all powerful universal trump card to be excused from any painful activity that “D” wanted to avoid  like PT, games, divisions, drill, parades, cross country runs, route marches, outward bound camps etc.

Even Senior Officers were wary of “D” because of his “enhanced” medical category – and they avoided bullshitting him – lest he drop dead or have a fit or something serious happen him – and they be blamed for it.

The biggest mystery was none of us knew what was wrong with him  no one knew for what “disease” “D” had got the medical category  from where he had got his medical category  and what exactly was his medical category.

Maybe he had managed to “enhance” his medical category at the previous training ship or unit  or maybe in NDA  or maybe even before that at the SSB – or maybe“D” was born with a medical category.

“D” looked perfectly healthy  and whenever we asked him about his medical category  he told us not to be too inquisitive.

In fact  I once suspected whether he had an “enhanced” medical category at all  but then  the way he flaunted it around  I thought that there must be some truth in it.

Of course  his “enhanced” medical category did not prevent “D” from drinking copious amounts of booze and eating all types of food to his heart’s content every afternoon and evening  or generally enjoying himself to the hilt  and having a jolly good ball of a time.

His medical category did not prevent him from getting promoted  and “D” got nominated for all the good training courses.

And  of course  he got the best of ships  and avoided all the hardship appointments  thanks to his “enhanced” medical category. 

Whenever he wanted to avoid anything inconvenient  “D” used his Trump Card  his Medical Category

Inspired by “D”  I tried my best to “enhance” my medical category  but I could not succeed  and throughout my long Navy career  I remained at the rock-bottom medical category S1 A1

Once  during my Annual Medical Examination (AME)  a Navy Doctor said that I was overweight  and I thought he was going to “enhance my Medical Category.

But – the Navy Doctor did not “enhance my Medical Category.

Instead – the Navy Doctor sent me in a spin  he made me do all sorts of medical tests  he got me examined by all sorts of specialists.

And then  the wise Navy Doctor delivered his final verdict on me: 

“Officer is Asymptomatic. He has been advised to reduce weight. Officer is fit in Medical Category S1 A1”...

I was declared fully “FIT in Medical Category S1 A1” 

Forget about S3 A3” S4 A4” S5 A5 etc – I had failed to “enhance my Medical Category even to a measly S2 A2...

I was back to Square 1

I have not understood the Mystery of the “Military Medical Category

Have you...? 


I heard a story – maybe apocryphal – about a smart officer who took full advantage of the medical category system. 

He was an expert at using the medical category system for malingering or shamming (in military parlance)

With the help of his doctor friends – he would keep manipulating his medical category to his advantage to avoid hardship postings. 

However  the smart officer ensured that his medical category was suitably upgraded just before promotion boards/criteria appointments/training courses.

This ensured that he reached high rank without enduring too much hardship. 

Thanks to his expertise in deftly manipulating his medical category  he managed to avoid tough appointments. 

He spent most of his career enjoying the best of lucrative/comfortable appointments – he got nominated to all the prestigious courses – he ensured that he got promoted on time – so that he could reach high rank. 

The smart officer delivered his coup de grace when he got his medical category suitably manipulated just before retirement  in order to claim disability pension.

(Disclaimer: I am totally clueless on the subject of “military medical categories” – so if you have any specific queries on the military medical category system  please contact your nearest “Fauji” Doctor)

Copyright © Vikram Karve 
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1. This story is a fictional spoof, satire, pure fiction, just for fun and humor, no offence is meant to anyone, so take it with a pinch of salt and have a laugh.
2. All stories in this blog are a work of fiction. Events, Places, Settings and Incidents narrated in the stories are a figment of my imagination. The characters do not exist and are purely imaginary. Any resemblance to persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.

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