Disqualifying Mental Health Conditions
If you have a current diagnosis or a history of most mental diseases, you are unable to serve in the United States military, according to the Department of Defense. Any psychotic disease, such as schizophrenia or delusional disorder, prevents a person from serving in the military.
If you have bipolar disorder or affective psychoses, you will be rejected. If a person has undergone outpatient care for more than 12 months or any inpatient care for depressive disorders , they will be disqualified from the service. To be eligible to join, a person with a depressive disorder must be stable for 36 months without treatment or symptoms.
For anxiety disorders , a person cannot join the military if they have had inpatient or outpatient treatment for longer than 12 months. They must not have required any anxiety treatment in the previous 36 months.
Conduct disturbances, impulse control disorder, oppositional defiant disorder, or other personality or behaviour disorders marked by frequent confrontations with law enforcement agencies, as well as antisocial attitudes or behaviour, are grounds for dismissal from the military. Similarly, if a persons personality, conduct, or behaviour disorder is deemed to be a major impediment to transitioning to military life, they may be prohibited from enrolling.
Other disqualifying mental health conditions include:
- A history of obsessive-compulsive disorder or post-trauma
- tic stress disorder
- A history of paraphilias like voyeurism or exhibitionism
Should You Lie About Your Mental Health At Meps
No, joining the military can often be extremely stressful and hence you should be careful about your mental health. MEPS wont have access to your personal records, but its always best to be honest.
The US Department of Defense has a directive called Criteria and Procedure Requirements for Physical Standards for Appointment, Enlistment, or Induction in the Armed Forces that has a complete list of what mental health disorders exclude a person from serving in the military.
Penalties for False Enlistment As stated on the Army enlistment contract you sign, lying at MEPS regarding medical or mental health history is a terrible idea with serious implications. Recruits who pass their physical and have no prior history may be accepted because the military does not routinely pull medical information.
Read more about the negative outcomes of lying at meps here
Can I Get A Mental Health Waiver For The Army
Its why the military has educational, citizenship, and physical fitness requirements. Additionally, new recruits must pass a medical and dental exam, as well as an observation of your mental health. If the military deems you unfit for service, you may have a chance of receiving a military medical waiver.
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General And Miscellaneous Conditions And Defects
The following conditions may disqualify you for military service:
a. Allergic manifestations. A reliable history of anaphylaxis to stinging insects. Reliable history of a moderate to severe reaction to common foods, spices or food additives.
b. Any acute pathological condition, including acute communicable diseases, until recovery has occurred without sequelae.
c. Chronic metallic poisoning with lead, arsenic or silver, or beryllium or manganese.
d. Cold injury, residuals of, such as: frostbite, chilblain, immersion foot, trench foot, deep-seated ache, paresthesia, hyperhidrosis, easily traumatized skin, cyanosis, amputation of any digit or ankylosis.
e. Cold urticaria and angioedema, hereditary angioedema.
f. Filariasis, trypanosomiasis, schistosomiasis, uncinariasis or other parasitic conditions, if symptomatic or carrier states.
g. Heat pyrexia, heatstroke or sunstroke. Documented evidence of a predisposition , recurrent episodes requiring medical attention or residual injury malignant hyperthermia.
h. Industrial solvent and other chemical intoxication.
i. Motion sickness. An authenticated history of frequent incapacitating motion sickness after the 12th birthday.
j. Mycotic infection of internal organs.
k. Organ transplant recipient.
l. Presence of human immunodeficiency virus or antibody. Presence is confirmed by repeatedly reactive enzyme-linked immunoassay serological test and positive immunoelectrophoresis test, or other DOD-approved confirmatory test.
What Gets You Medically Discharged From The Army
A physical or psychological condition that interferes significantly with an individuals fitness for duty can be grounds for discharge. Each Services disability evaluation system will determine if a servicemember is unfit for duty due to physical disability. Not all medical problems amount to a disability.
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Medical Conditions That Can Keep You From Joining The Military
Below, you will find details from the Army‘s “Standards of Medical Fitness.” These standards generally apply to all other branches as well. Remember that most of these conditions are not necessarily permanently disqualifying, but they are red flags.
If you have had a medical complication at any time in your life that is mentioned here, then you need to tell your recruiter. They will tell you whether your condition can be waived, or if it is permanently disqualifying. Remember that if you do not get an official waiver and your condition later is discovered, you most likely will be dishonorably discharged for fraudulent enlistment. The choice is yours.
Why Mental Health First Aid For Veterans Service Members And Their Families
While military service often fosters resilience in individuals and families, some service members may experience mental health or substance use challenges. Thirty percent of active duty and reserve military personnel deployed in Iraq and Afghanistan have a mental health condition requiring treatment approximately 730,000 men and women, with many experiencing post-traumatic stress disorder and major depression. Sadly, less than 50 percent of returning veterans in need receive any mental health treatment. The Veterans Administration reports that approximately 20 veterans die by suicide every day.
Individuals trained in Mental Health First Aid can help to:
- Break down the stigma associated with mental illness like anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder , schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and substance use disorders
- Reach out to those who suffer in silence, reluctant to seek help
- Let veterans know that support is available in their community
- Provide community resource information
- Read more in our fact sheet.
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Condition #6 Anxiety Disorder
Anxiety is an issue that affects every single human. However, some individuals have a harder time appropriately dealing with it than others. In certain cases, they may even get diagnosed with an anxiety disorder.
The military realizes that some anxiety is normal. However, since anxiety is considered a mental health issue it will check your medical background for any perceived risks.
The biggest mental health factor the military assesses is a history of suicidal behavior. Though that is more connected to depression than anxiety, it will also consider previous or current issues.
Some disqualifying conditions include:
- Simple phobias
- Post Traumatic Stress Disorder
Likewise, specific phobias such as a fear of specific animals like spiders, snakes, or dogs , fear of specific environments like heights or thunderstorms , and situational fears like bridges or driving can all be grounds for military disqualification.
Of course, this all depends on the extent of your phobia, and whether or not youve been treated for it in the recent past.
Personality And Behavioral Disorders
Disturbances of conduct, impulse control disorder, oppositional defiant disorder, or other personality or behavior disorders characterized by frequent encounters with law enforcement agencies, and antisocial attitudes or behavior also warrant disqualification from service. Likewise, a person may be disqualified from enlisting if their personality, conduct, or behavior disorder is believed to be a serious interference in adjusting to the military.
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Who Op Courage Can Help
To receive help and support from Op COURAGE, you must:
- be a resident in England and have served in the UK armed forces for a full day
- be registered with a GP practice in England or be willing and eligible to register with a GP
- provide your military service number
It does not matter how long ago you left the armed forces. You can contact Op COURAGE even if you left many years ago.
You can also contact Op COURAGE if you are still serving but have a discharge date.
Personality Conduct And Behavior Disorders
The following conditions may disqualify you for military service:
a. Personality, conduct or behavior disorders as evidenced by frequent encounters with law enforcement agencies, antisocial attitudes or behavior, which, while not sufficient cause for administrative rejection, are tangible evidence of impaired capacity to adapt to military service.
b. Personality, conduct or behavior disorders where it is evident by history, interview or psychological testing that the degree of immaturity, instability, personality inadequacy, impulsiveness or dependency will seriously interfere with adjustment in the Army as demonstrated by repeated inability to maintain reasonable adjustment in school, with employers and fellow workers, and with other social groups.
c. Other behavior disorders including but not limited to conditions such as authenticated evidence of functional enuresis or encopresis, sleepwalking or eating disorders that are habitual or persistent occurring beyond age 12, or stammering of such a degree that the individual is normally unable to express themselves clearly or to repeat commands.
d. Specific academic skills defects, chronic history of academic skills or perceptual defects, secondary to organic or functional mental disorders that interfere with work or school after age 12. Current use of medication to improve or maintain academic skills.
e. Suicide, history of attempted or suicidal behavior.
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What Happens If Meps Disqualifies You
Originally Answered: What happens if you are disqualified at MEPS? If its a waiverable condition, your recruiter can submit a waiver request for it. If the wavier is approved you move forward to basic training. IF its a non-wavierable condition or a waiver is not submitted or approved, your contract is null and void.
Obtaining An Army Waiver
There is a chance that you might qualify for current service if your bout of mental illness doesnt hit any of the triggers listed above and you are presently of solid mental health. In this case, youll have to apply for a waiver from the military. The waiver acts as a statement of confidence that your mental health issues will not affect your ability to serve.
If you want to try for a waiver, youll need all of your medical records from the doctors who worked with you. Get copies of all of your treatment paperwork, including medication information and therapy notes, to be given to your recruiter and reviewed by the chain of command up to the surgeon general. The point is to be upfront and straightforward, showing that the mark in your medical history is far in the past and does not currently affect your ability to do normal daily tasks and respond to stressful situations. The paperwork should include a statement of such by the doctor or doctors who helped treat your depression.
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Requirements For Joining The Military
The U.S. military has six branches of service: the Army, Navy, Air Force, Coast Guard, Marine Corps, and Space Force. The requirements to join are similar for all six. The main differences are in age limits, test scores, and fitness levels. Men and women meet different fitness standards. Besides the requirements listed here, a branch may have other requirements.
Age Limits for Enlisting
You must be at least 17 to enlist in any branch of the active military. The oldest you can be to enlist for active duty in each branch is:
Coast Guard: 31
Air Force: 39
Space Force: 39
Some branches have different age limits for their part-time Reserve and National Guard. Visit each service’s recruiting website for its part-time age limits.
Requirements for Enlisting If You Are Not a U.S. Citizen
You do not have to be a U.S. citizen to enlist in the military, but you may have fewer options. If you are not a U.S. citizen, you must:
Have a permanent resident card, also known as a Green Card
Currently live in the U.S.
Speak, read, and write English fluently
Educational and Testing Requirements for Enlisting
Your scores on four of those make up your Armed Forces Qualification Test score. This score determines which branch you may join. Each branch has its own lowest score for joining.
Your scores on all 10 subtests determine which job specialties you qualify for.
Can You Take Antidepressants In The Military
In the past, the military has disqualified just about any medication related to mental health.
However, the current policy is a little different.
It generally disqualifies anyone that is or has taken medication for mental illness in the last year.
If its been more than a year you may receive a waiver but the military will need to examine your medical records and speak to your physician.
The rules apply to medications like Zoloft, Prozac, Paxil, Celexa, and Wellbutrin.
However, that doesnt stop the military from reportedly prescribing antidepressants to a surprisingly high number of active-duty soldiers.
Its worth pointing out that some people advise not mentioning any previous mental health diagnoses or medications to a recruiter, as well as MEPS.
The decision is up to you, but some strongly believe that what isnt known doesnt hurt anyone.
However, the military has ways of finding out if the mental health condition is on your medical records.
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What Are The Risks For Veterans
There are an estimated 5 million veterans in the UK, and a further 20,000 personnel leave the forces each year. When staff leave HM Forces, their healthcare transfers from the military to the NHS.Only around 0.1% of regular service personnel are discharged annually for mental health reasons. However some veterans develop mental health problems after leaving service, many of whom will be experiencing PTSD.
Until recently, little was known about these veterans. What is known is that only half of those experiencing mental health problems sought help from the NHS, and those that did were rarely referred to specialist mental health services.
Veterans mental health problems may be made worse or caused by post-service factors, such as the difficulty in making the transition to civilian life, marital problems, and loss of family and social support networks. Younger veterans are at high risk of suicide in the first two years after leaving service. Ex-service personnel are also vulnerable to social exclusion and homelessness, both of which are risk factors for mental ill health. Alcohol misuse is also high.
Frequently Asked Questions We Receive
Below are a few of the most popular questions we receive regarding potential military disqualifiers:
What sorts of medical conditions could disqualify you from joining the military?
There is a very long list of medical conditions that can affect potential future military service. It completely depends on several factors, including which branch you want to join, what medical condition you have, and more.
Can you join the military with a felony?
Like everything else in the military, it depends on a wide array of factors. They include the type of felony, when it was committed, which branch you want to join, and much more.
What can disqualify you from MEPS?
As mentioned previously, there are dozens of conditions that can disqualify you at MEPS. They include dental issues, eye / ear issues, hearing problems, and heart problems.
Are waivers available?
Certain medical conditions do allow you to receive a waiver under the right conditions. Those include waivers for eyesight, height / weight, and previous surgerys.
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Other Mental Health Conditions
Depression isnt the only disqualifying mental condition that can prevent you from enlisting. A number of other conditions can also prove problematic, explain sources like the team at Military.com.
These include Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder , especially as a recurring issue learning disorders Autism spectrum disorders psychotic episodes, including schizophrenia and delusional disorders Bipolar and related disorders any adjustment disorder treated within the last 6 months, or any chronic or recurring issues lasting over 6 cumulative months disruptive, impulsive and conduct disorders personality disorders of maladaptive personality traits eating disorders suicidal or self-harming tendencies Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder anxiety disorders, with similar additional qualifications as depression dissociative disorders and substance abuse or addiction.
Any kind of hospitalization due to mental illness causes will also disqualify you. The U.S. Military looks at these issues as a potential danger to both you and your fellow soldiers in tense situations, which is why there are so many disqualifying conditions. While normally these conditions cause little harm to anyone, if there is a chance that the individual may not have the mental clarity to respond in an emergency, the military is unlikely to accept their application. In addition, conditions that can also affect physical health will disqualify an applicant.
Army Lifts Ban On Recruits With Mental Health Issues
Nov. 13, 2017 — People with a history of some types of mental health problems can now seek waivers to join the U.S. Army.
Under an unannounced policy implemented in August, waivers can be sought by people with a history of “self-mutilation,” bipolar disorder, depression and drug and alcohol abuse, reveal documents obtained by USA Today.
The Army issued a ban on waivers in 2009 due to high suicide rates among troops. One reason for the recent policy change is that the Army now has access to more medical information about recruits, according to Army spokesman Lt. Col. Randy Taylor.
“The decision was primarily due to the increased availability of medical records and other data which is now more readily available,” Taylor said in a statement to USA Today. “These records allow Army officials to better document applicant medical histories.”
The Army is trying to recruit 80,000 new soldiers by September 2018. To reach last year’s target of 69,000 recruits, the Army accepted more people who did poorly on aptitude tests, increased the number of waivers granted for users of , and offered hundreds of millions of dollars in bonuses.
“For all waivers, the burden of proof is on the applicant to provide a clear and meritorious case for why a waiver should be considered,” one Army memo states, USA Today reported.
According to Taylor, many highly qualified applicants have been disqualified due to incidents that took place when they were young children.
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