We studied a group of active duty military personnel with well-defined, lumbar discogenic, radicular pain syndromes. Our study group included 29 patients, 12 of whom required surgery during the study period. Three of the 29 patients had to be medically retired from active military service. Two patients required permanent limited-duty assignment and 10 others required prolonged (6 months or more) periods of limited duty. These findings highlight the significant adverse impact of lumbar disk disease on fitness for full active duty in military personnel.