Number of Danes unsuitable for military service a concern: soldiers’ union

The chairman of a soldiers’ union in Denmark has said he is concerned about the general health of young men in the Scandinavian country.

Number of Danes unsuitable for military service a concern: soldiers’ union
Photo: Henning Bagger/Ritzau Scanpix

Although levels of interest in joining the Danish armed forces are high, many are physically unsuitable for military service.

That is a cause for concern in regard to the general health of young people, according to Flemming Vinther, who chairs Hærens Konstabel- og Korporalforening (The Society for Army Privates and Corporals), a union for Danish privates, corporals and military service conscripts.

Military service is an obligation for all Danish men living permanently in Denmark. After turning 18, young men are summoned to an assessment as to their suitability for service. Those deemed suitable or partially suitable then draw lots to determine whether they will actually be required to serve.

Women are not legally obliged to serve but can opt in to military service under the same terms as men.

Vinther was responding to a recent article in newspaper Berlingske, which noted that almost one in two young Danish men are now found to be unsuited for military service.

The union chair said the figures reported by Berlingske were a concern in regard to health, rather than the military’s future recruitment.

“This tells me first and foremost that we as a society should be worried about the health situation amongst our young people,” he said to Ritzau.

“I don’t actually think that basic entry requirements for the military are either unfair or extremely high,” he added.

In 2017, 46 percent of young Danes were found suited for military service, the lowest proportion ever according to Berlingske. 48 percent were considered unable to serve.

Of those ruled out of serving, 22 percent of cases were due to psychological health issues such as ADHD, anxiety or depression, Berlingske reports based on figures provided by the Danish Ministry of Defence Personnel Agency.

The agency wrote that “in general, more diagnoses are made today than in the past.”

“The military will be okay, but I think these numbers are concerning in that we have age groups coming through where there seems to be so many young people that don’t make the cut to be accepted as soldiers,” Vinther said.

“That should switch on warning lights for people who work with young people’s health in general,” he added.

READ ALSO: Armed military to replace police on Danish streets and border


New Year’s Eve injury rate bounces back to normal in Denmark

The number of people treated for fireworks-related injuries on New Year's Eve in Denmark has bounced back to normal levels, with 16 people treated for eye injuries after the celebrations.

New Year's Eve injury rate bounces back to normal in Denmark
Fireworks led to 16 eye injuries on New Year's Eve. Photo: Mads Claus Rasmussen/Ritzau Scanpix

This is up from the unusually low 12 people who were treated for eye injuries during and after the celebrations last year. Two of this year’s injuries are sufficiently severe that the injured are expected to lose their sight completely or partially.

“After a very quiet evening last year, it is back to a normal, average level,” Ulrik Correll Christensen, head doctor at the ophthalmology department at Rigshospitalet, told the country’s Ritzau newswire. “It is a completely extraordinary situation at the eye departments on New Year’s Eve. It is not at all something we see on a daily basis.” 

Christensen has tallied up reports from all of Denmark’s eye units, including the major ones in Copenhagen, Aalborg, Aarhus, Odense and Næstved. 

He said that 15 out of the 16 cases had not worn safety goggles, two thirds were between ten and thirty years old. 

“The most important thing is to follow the advice when firing fireworks. Wear safety goggles and keep a good distance,” he said. 

The number of ambulance call outs on New Year’s Eve is also back to normal, with 1,188 emergency vehicles sent out, compared to 875 last year. 

In the Capital Region of Copenhagen, there were 44 call-outs were related to fireworks, of which 16 were for hand injuries and 14 for eye injuries.