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It used to take a bum leg or a penchant for same sex love to get out of the army. These days, however, young Fins are using Internet addiction as a means of avoiding required military service.

Finnish "packet poppers" sent off for service have exhibited painful longing for their PCs - a longing so profound that military doctors have become concerned for the youngsters' condition. The Finnish Defense Forces, showing their kind hearts, have decided to excuse IP addicts from their six months duty all together, according to a report from Reuters.

"For people who play (Internet) games all night and don't have any friends, don't have any hobbies, to come into the army is a very big shock," Commander-Captain Jyrki Kivela at the military conscription unit told the news service. "Some of (the conscripts) go to the doctor and say they can't stay. Sometimes, the doctors have said they have an Internet addiction."

There are no numbers of just how many net-addled men have run back home where they can up their frag count in comfort. But 9 percent of the 26,500 men called up in 2003 were dismissed for medical reasons, Reuters said.

If the youngsters can kick "the horse," they're allowed back in the military.

"They get sent home for three years and after that they have to come back and we ask if they are OK ... they will have had time to grow up," Kivela told Reuters.

By that time, however, they're probably making a good wage at Nokia and more interested in N-Gage bluetooth wars than real battle training. ®

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