Air Force Pilot Who Was Disqualified for Health Condition Returns to Work After 2 Years of Treatment

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The Air Force Reserve pilot was blocked from continuing his work as a flight instructor due to his diagnosis of ulcerative colitis, but sought surgery and treatment until a waiver was issued 2 years later.

In late 2017, Lt. Col. Joshua Nelson was told that his newly diagnosed ulcerative colitis barred him from continuing his pilot duties. 

The Air Force considers inflammatory diseases disqualifying medical conditions, putting colitis, a condition that creates inflammation and ulcers in the bowel, on the list.

According to CBS Minnesota, the Air Force Reserve pilot has done five deployments over his 21 years with the branch, and was working as a C130 instructor pilot.

The outlet reported that Nelson underwent two surgeries, including an ileostomy and trying several medications with the goal of getting his condition under control. 

After two years of working with surgeon Dr. Wolfgang Gaertner from M Health Fairview's University of Minnesota Medical Center, the Lt. Col. re-applied for his position. 

His efforts paid off, and he was given a waiver to return to work and get back to flying.

“Everyone can be resilient. Everyone can bounce back if they’re given that opportunity, and that second chance, which is what I think I truly was given, was a second chance and an opportunity to be able to return,” Nelson told CBS Minnesota.

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