How Do You Get A Medical Waiver
Applicants typically learn about the medical waiver process when they meet with a recruiter the first enlistment step for any branch.
Most applicants disclose their ADHD history in conversation with the recruiter, but they also must indicate their ADHD history in the medical documents they must fill out as part of the enlistment process.
One of these documents is the Accessions Medical Prescreen Report, or the DD 2807-2, which requires applicants to check yes or no if they were evaluated or treated for ADHD, and if they are taking or have taken medication to improve attention. Applicants must also explain all yes answers in a separate section. Consequences for failing to answer truthfully or making false statements are noted in the form.
This prescreen form is completed with the help of the recruiter, and is reviewed by a medical professional at a Military Entrance Processing Station typically the second step in the recruitment process, during which potential enlistees take the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery test and undergo a medical examination.
Each branch has its own waiver authority board, which will make the waiver determination based on all available information regarding the issue or condition, as well as the specific needs of the military service, according to DOD guidelines.
Army Rescinds Mental Health Waiver Memo But Its Policy Is Unchanged
The Army has rescinded a memo that set off a firestorm of objections after USA Today reported on Saturday that the service would begin considering waivers for potential recruits with mental health and substance abuse issues.
The original story and subsequent statements by the Army painted a confusing picture of the services waiver process and the authorities in charge of giving second-looks to prospective soldiers.
On Wednesday, Army Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Milley told reporters at the Pentagon that he had rescinded the memo.
The policy, however, still stands, Milley told reporters on Wednesday morning.
Back in August, Army leadership directed Army Recruiting Command to begin considering waivers for mental health issues, like bipolar disorder and major depression, as well as drug and alcohol abuse, as USA Today first reported.
What had actually changed, Army leaders have since explained, was not that the Army would now consider waivers for these things, because it does and always has. The August decision was an administrative shift, Milley said, that put consideration of these waivers back in the hands of USAREC.
Since 2009, the Army had required that USAREC route certain sensitive waiver requests such as those for behavioral health or substance abuse issues up to Army headquarters, to be reviewed by senior leadership.
Signed by a lieutenant colonel medical doctor, he said. It was an unauthorized memo.
Documentation For Cdcs Review
As noted above, USCIS can only grant this waiver after it has consulted with CDC. However, CDCs review of the necessary documents does not constitute a waiver approval. CDC may recommend that USCIS should make the waiver subject to appropriate terms, conditions, or controls.
To obtain CDCs review of a waiver application, the officer should forward the following documents to CDC:
A cover letter that identifies the USCIS office requesting the review
A copy of the waiver application that contains all the required signatures, excluding the supporting documentation that is not medically relevant
A copy of the medical examination documentation
A copy of the supporting medical report, if provided, detailing the physical or mental disorder that is associated with the harmful behavior and the physicians recommendation regarding the course and prospects of the treatment and
Copies of all other medical reports, laboratory results, and evaluations regardless of whether they are connected to the mental or physical disorder with associated harmful behavior.
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The Decision Of Recruiting Commander
For the service you are applying to join, the medical records and the recommendation of the doctor go to the recruitment commander . The commander decides whether a medical waiver should be sought. The commander considers the doctors advice in making this decision, along with two additional factors:
- Is the recruit otherwise uniquely qualified?
- Are new recruitment targets being achieved?
If the commander wishes to request a waiver, depending on the branch of the service youre entering, where it goes from that point. Multiple levels of military medical officers, however, examine the form and documents. Every doctor checks them and recommends approval or rejection before a high-ranking doctor who makes the ultimate decision eventually falls into the hands of them.
If the medical waiver is refused, for every hope that you have of entering that branch of operation, thats the end of the line. There are no appeals for disapproval of the medical waiver-the appeal is the waiver process.
Air Force Medical Waiver Process
After you complete the medical pre-screening for the United States Air Force you progress to MEPS.
Keep in mind that MEPS does not belong to any particular branch, but rather the Department of Defense.
Therefore, the disqualifying medical conditions for one branch is the same for another branch, yet the rate of approving medical waivers is different.
Doctors that are employed by the DOD will contact new recruits if anything comes up on the prescreening that requires a closer examination.
Medical conditions that are automatic disqualifiers means that youll likely be denied an appointment with MEPS.
Unfortunately, recruits cannot appeal the decision for immediate denial of MEPS.
However, many conditions allow you a closer medical examination where a qualified doctor can determine if you are still fit for service.
There, its possible to request a medical waiver with the Air Force.
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I Used To Take Drugs Can I Still Join
If you have a history of drug dependence, you will need to provide evidence that you have abstained from the use of these drugs for at least the last 3 years prior to joining the Army.A history of occasional use of recreational drugs won’t stop you from joining, but you must stop using any such drugs before you join.
After joining the Army, you must not use recreational drugs. The Army carries out random, compulsory drugs testing, and you can expect to be tested while you’re in training. If you fail any of the tests, you’re very likely be discharged.
Permanent And Temporary Disqualifications
MEPS will either accept or decline your prescreen request. If it is accepted, you will be able to process through MEPS where you will take a physical where you will either pass or fail. If your 2807-2 is declined or you fail your physical at MEPS, you will receive either a Temporary Disqualification or a Permanent Disqualification . Dont let those terms scare you away.
A Temporary Disqualification simply means the physical condition is temporary and you cannot process through MEPS because of the medical condition. This could be something as simple as a broken finger. They cant allow you to join the military with a broken bone. But it is classified as a temporary condition because it will heal. A TDQ will delay your request to process for a military physical until your condition has healed and you can prove the condition no longer affects you.
A Permanent Disqualification is for a medical condition that is permanent. A surgery, for example, is a permanent condition because it cannot be undone. A surgery doesnt necessarily mean you cannot serve, it just means MEPS cannot process your 2807-2 without additional information. There are other reasons for a PQD, and each situation will be unique. Some issues are eligible for a medical waiver, while others are not.
If you fail your MEPS physical or your Medical Prescreen Form is kicked back with a medical disqualification, then you may, or may not, have the option to apply for a waiver, depending on the reason for your PDQ.
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Post Traumatic Stress Disorder
Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is also an anxiety problem.
The disorder causes persistent mental or emotional stress which is usually a result of some form of trauma.
Unfortunately, PTSD is a common mental illness that gets diagnosed to patients who previously served in the military.
While it is rarer for people to try and join the military with PTSD it is not completely abnormal.
Unfortunately, the military considers PTSD a disqualifying mental health condition.
If youve been diagnosed with PTSD you likely wont receive a waiver.
Army Medical Waiver Process
The United States Army carries forward many of the same procedures at MEPS as the other military branches.
Some argue that the Army is less selective because it has the highest enrollment of the military branches.
Therefore, the possibility of receiving a medical waiver might improve with the odds but at the end of the day it still comes down to the medical condition.
There are some conditions the Army is willing to accommodate and support because of others.
In every case where a medical waiver is not approved, it generally is because the condition could serve as a safety or liability hazard for you or the fellow soldiers in your platoon.
Its important to remember that many medical conditions listed under the Department of Defense guidelines are not permanently disqualifying.
There is a difference between temporary and permanent disqualifications:
- Temporary Disqualification: Temporary disqualifications might cause a delay in admission yet doesnt qualify as a permanent decision. For example, someone that broke an arm receives a temporary disqualification until the condition gets corrected.
- Permanent Disqualification: Conditions that require surgery, or will never go away, represent permanent disqualifications. Its basically anything that cannot get undone. However, it doesnt mean in all cases that you cant serve the military but youll need to apply for a waiver and take measures to correct or improve the condition.
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How Long Do You Have To Be Off Adhd Medication To Join The Military
Recruiters generally tell applicants that they must be off medication for a considerable length of time by far the most important measure to take and show that they are able to function properly while off medication prior to starting the enlistment process and to be considered for a waiver.
The time frame required to be off medication differs across the branches and even among recruiters within the same branch. Some also recommend different approaches to demonstrating proper functioning without medication.
In the Army, Navy, and Marines in particular, recruiters largely advise applicants with ADHD to be off any and all stimulant or nonstimulant medications for at least one year.
Some recruiters, notably within the Air Force, tell applicants they must be off medication for 15 months or more . The Coast Guard which represents just 3 percent of active armed forces members is widely considered to be the most difficult branch to successfully petition for an ADHD waiver.
The time spent off medication should be noted by a doctor in the applicants medical and pharmacy records, and handed in as part of the waiver process. The records should also describe the applicants ADHD history, diagnosis, treatment, and stability while off medication.
Apart from medical documentation, recruiters may also recommend that applicants submit transcripts and letters of recommendation to showcase evidence of successful academic and work performance while off medication.
Documentation For An Other Designated Physical And Mental Conditions Discharge
With some of these conditions, local commands are reluctant to believe that the problem exists and to grant discharge. Medical or psychiatric documentation is vital.
The best documentation for a personality disorder is a current and thorough psychiatric evaluation. While the military will require psychiatric examination by a military psychiatrist or licensed clinical psychologist, civilians are usually more thorough and more sympathetic than military doctors.
Military commands and psychiatrists may demand to know why a civilian psychiatrist was consulted, even though it is perfectly legal to do so. Members can justify the consultation by explaining how their emotional state frightened them.
You may want to write a cover letter describing your difficulties in performing your duties and what you have tried to do to alleviate the problem. This letter is usually most effective if it is not a request for discharge but an outline of the problems you are having.
The GI Rights Hotline may be able to help you find psychiatrists or licensed psychologists who are generally supportive and willing to learn about the militarys criteria and procedures.
It is not helpful to give the psychiatrist a detailed account of how the military has made life miserable for you. Instead, you can discuss your own feelings and actions without simply laying blame on the military.
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Neurological And Learning Disorders
Seizure disorders and recurrent or severe headaches may be disqualifying, and waivable only be determined on a case-by-case basis. A history of learning disorders such as attention deficit disorder may only be considered for waiver if an applicant has demonstrated successful academic performance off stimulant medication or other treatment for at least 15 months and if no educational accommodations have been required.
Is It Worth Pursuing A Military Career If I Have Adhd
It is easy for applicants with ADHD who want to serve in the military to feel discouraged by these guidelines. Its important to remember, though, that recruiters do take an interest in helping applicants, especially those who advocate for themselves.
Recruiters want to, and will, work with applicants to determine their best fit in a specific branch. Recruiters can spend hours interviewing and taking questions from a single applicant. Many engage in non-binding dialogue to gauge an applicants eligibility before asking them commit to any processes or formally submit documentation.
Some recruiters, for example, are known to have applicants fill out a slightly modified version of the medical pre-screening report one that will stay between the recruiter and candidate prior to filling out the official version of the report. The recruiter may explain to an applicant that reviewing the modified questionnaire lets them to gauge whether a candidates medical history requires more documentation, and allows applicants to decide if they have the time and willingness to proceed should any red flags appear.
Hopeful service members must conduct their own research prior to joining, which means speaking to a doctor about the plan for and ramifications of getting off medication, and finding a branch and career that accommodates and accentuates strengths while minimizing weaknesses.
Dont ever stop fighting to get in if thats what you want to do, he said.
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If Theres A Will Theres A Waiver
Three years ago, I wrote an article detailing my personal difficulties securing a medical waiver through three military medical rejections. Since publishing the article, I have had the privilege to speak with over 100 applicants just like me people who want to serve and have something to contribute but who have been medically rejected about the barriers they ran into. Through those conversations, I learned many lessons regarding common myths and misperceptions about the military medical waiver process and have even been fortunate to assist with some successful waiver appeals.
This article aims to demystify the medical waiver process and give applicants the information that will help them get to yes. Far too few people know, for example, that having a disqualifying medical condition is not actually disqualifying, or that they can apply to multiple military branches in multiple states. While no one can guarantee a medical waiver, if you follow this guide, you will maximize your chances of receiving one. Above all else, never forget that if theres a will, theres a waiver!
Is Your Medical History Truly History?
While applicants can only formally apply to one military branch at a time, most people do not realize that you can apply to a different branch after youve been rejected by one. In other words, keep applying.
Be a Waiver Innovator
Worth the Wait
Disqualification Can Be Temporary And Permanent
Two kinds of disqualifications are available: temporary and permanent. permanent does not necessarily indicate that you are unable to join the army, and temporary does not imply that you need a waiver. Temporary means you currently have a medical condition that is disqualifying, but that will change over time. An instance may be that you cant enlist with a fractured foot, but once it recovers, the injury would no longer disqualify, assuming no complications, and you would be able to enlist without a waiver. Permanent means you have a medical condition that is disqualifying and will not improve over time, such as a history of depression.
If you receive an approved waiver, you can not participate in a permanent medical disqualification.
If you are found to be permanently ineligible, the MEPS doctor will indicate whether a waiver is recommended in your case on your medical form. It is the first step in the process of medical waiver. The physician would consider the following when making the recommendation:
- Is the disease progressive?
- Is this state subject to military service aggravation?
- Will the situation prevent the prescribed preparation and subsequent military service from being performed satisfactorily?
- Would the situation, particularly under combat conditions, constitute an unnecessary risk to the exam or others?
MEPS is achieved with the medical waiver procedure until the doctor makes a decision. The rest is up to the service that you are seeking to engage in.
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Navy Disqualifying Medical Conditions
Here are some of the medical conditions that require a waiver to continue and serve in the U.S. Navy.
Some of these conditions make it harder to receive a medical waiver.
Notwithstanding its still possible to receive clearance:
NOTE: The U.S. Navy recently adapted its medical waiver process. You can learn more details about the revised policy, including the opportunity to request a second medical waiver review, here!
How To Get A Medical Waiver To Join The Military
Nobody can tell you what your chances of waiver approval are, as you consider joining the military. Depending on your issue, it could be an easy process, like LASIK or PRK Laser Eye Surgery, or a difficult and long process for serious knee or shoulder surgeries.
There is a set of standards you can use as a general guide, the Medical Disqualifying Ailments for Military Service form, but every waiver request is evaluated using several individual factors. No two waivers are alike.
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